Ryan: After a long weekend of celebrating our independence, it’s time to return to reality and look at Connecticut’s dependence on its overtaxed residents.
Fisher: This year’s legislative session is finally over — but it took “overtime,” or a Special Session, last week to get it over with. The denouement was inevitable: A bad budget deal with batches of tax increases, bureaucratic fees and bad news for businesses and taxpayers, with huge deficits still unresolved.
Once again, it is everyone in Connecticut except the government class that is being asked to make sacrifices. And the governor’s big transportation improvement plan — something Connecticut needs desperately — was downgraded to patchwork.
Ryan: In a sense, it is probably good news that little legislation has made it’s way out of the State Capitol this year other than the budget fiasco, since long-time observers point out that the less damage our state government does to us, the better.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, or were vacationing in Greece — an economy similar in size and some fiscal problems like the Nutmeg State — for the last month and a half, a good place to catch up is CTMirror.org. Check out these headlines from the past month (when you read us online, you can just click on the headlines to get the full story): “New budget includes $200 million income tax hit on middle class,” “Proposed state budget diverts most new transportation dollars,” “Big business speaks loudly, rattles fragile tax deal,” “Play by play: The budget debate,” “Looming deficits already threaten transportation, town aid initiatives,” and “Malloy signs, then promotes, newly tweaked budget.”
Fisher: When the governor signed the budget last week, he rattled off a list of other states that hadn’t approved a budget yet; apparently seeking praise for completing one of his most basic tasks. He failed to mention that he once again broke an often-repeated campaign promise that he would not raise taxes. But even Tom Foley could have told you that was going to happen.
Connecticut’s voice of reason, Chris Powell, put what was not happening in Hartford into focus with “Legislators do trivial; serious is too scary” as well as “Forget vision and courage, where’s simple competence?“ (Both can be found at JournalInquirer.com.) The Wall Street Journal went after the low-hanging fruit that is Connecticut’s fiscal status with “Worse than Illinois?” (wsj.com).
Ryan: And not only are the state’s fiscal crisis worsening with no solutions in sight (unless you consider more and more new taxes and tax increases to be solutions), there is a whole new level of acrimony in the process, see “Malloy Comments on Racism Anger Republicans,” which even led The Hartford Courant editorial board to note “Mr. Malloy Poisons the Debate” (courant.com).
Fisher: Part of this should be a reminder to fiscally-minded residents and politicians of Connecticut: The Republican brand is vile in the Nutmeg State. No matter what it once meant to be a Republican, most northeast independents and Democrats think of Southern Republicans’ social message when the GOP is mentioned. So good luck to J.R. Romano, the new chairman of the dwindling Connecticut Republican party. See: “Young new GOP state chair promises ’tenacity’” (CTMirror.org).
But there is some other bad news in the horizon for all of us. Still think tolls are far off? See “Study: State could rake in $62 billion installing highway tolls” (CTPost.com) and “Whistleblowers’ Lawsuit: Retirement System Rife With Politics, Pro-Union Bias” (courant.com).
Ryan: Here are some more headlines to brighten up your summer: “DMV torture stations serve up hours-long waits” (TheDay.com), “Democrat Loses Election, Then Gets $85K State Job During Hiring Freeze” (courant.com) and “Hartford Baseball Stadium Could Be Financed by State” (NBCConnecticut.com).
Fisher: The news that Connecticut businesses such as GE, Aetna, Travellers, Stanley Works and others finally chirped up about our state’s toxic anti-business environment was tempered by this news flash: “Ex Bridgeport Mayor Previously Imprisoned for Corruption Seeks Second Chance in Mayor’s Race” (NBCConnecticut.com).
Ryan: He’s already raised $200,000 in campaign contributions. Proving that no one’s political career actually dies in Bridgeport; you’re just sometimes sidelined by a prison term.
John J. Ryan is of counsel to the Fairfield County law firm Russo & Assoc., and served 14 years as Darien and Rowayton’s state representative — and has been writing this column for Hersam Acorn even longer. Joshua Fisher was an editor with Hersam Acorn for 12 years. He is now the company’s director of audience development and engagement.