Making a List of Little Honor

The Wall Street Journal ran a story today about at least ten states that have the dubious distinction of already raising taxes or are venturing perilously close to doing so in the near future.  The Nutmeg State, sadly, made the list of little honor:

Legislators know the increases will be unpopular with residents. “There will be blame, we accept that,” Sen. Eileen M. Daily of Connecticut said earlier this month when she and fellow Democrats announced a budget that raises income-tax rates and expands the sales tax to raise more than $3 billion over the next two years. Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican, has said she would veto the plan.

The article inadvertently highlights one of the many problems with the big tax hikes proposed by the Legislative Democrats last week.  Nearly everyone else in our region – Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey – is in the process of raising taxes.  The Democrats say that this is good news – that we will continue to be competitive with these other states – while paying no heed to the argument that we would be more competitive if we didn’t raise taxes at all.

At the press conference a week ago, State Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook was asked about the 30 percent “surcharge” to be added to business tax bills, with the reporter specifically inquiring about why the hike made sense when many businesses are already slashing payrolls and cutting production.  Senator Daily replied that, “only businesses that make money will pay the tax.”

Oh joy. 

Senator Daily and her fellow Democrats either don’t know or don’t care that if small businesses aren’t “making money”, there are other things they also aren’t doing – like making payroll, covering the rent, or paying suppliers.  Imposing additional hurdles to meeting those obligations doesn’t help anyone – least of all the State, because empty storefronts don’t pay taxes, either. 

The long term solution to generating more tax revenue isn’t simply raising taxes – it is growing the tax base.  But until government stops pretending to be the solution and starts being recognized as the problem, here we will stay, stuck on the list of lemmings headed off the cliff.

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49 responses to “Making a List of Little Honor

  1. “Dubious distinction?” “List of little honor?” Frankly I was hoping for more substance. We are in difficult financial times that demand difficult decisions. But to simply characterize the very idea of tax increases as beneath contempt or unworthy of serious discussion cheapens us and gets in the way of a serious discussion of the issues. And the same would go for program cuts characterized in similar terms. Isn’t it time all of us grow up just a little bit and try to approach our problems thoughtly and with the requisite seriousness called for by these times? Let’s leave the labeling and name calling behind.

  2. wtfdnucsailor

    It will take a combination of cuts in programs and some tax increases to get the State and all of the 169 municipalities out of the financial hole. It certainly is more palatable to raise some taxes via the state than to cut off the cities and towns and force a property tax increase at the local level. If the state revenue drys up, that is what will happen. Property taxes will go up since there are services that each town and city must provide to its citizens.

  3. It will take a combination of cuts in programs and some tax increases to get the State and all of the 169 municipalities out of the financial hole. It certainly is more palatable to raise some taxes via the state than to cut off the cities and towns and force a property tax increase at the local level. If the state revenue drys up, that is what will happen. Property taxes will go up since there are services that each town and city must provide to its citizens.

    It sounds like the mayors are looking for the State to relieve them of accountability: they’d prefer raising taxes on the State as a whole (i.e., take more money from rich people) to being forced to either raise property taxes or cut their budgets, and accept the consequences in November.

    Either way, as Heath ably points out, the choice is between taxes today or jobs growth tomorrow; our leaders can have one but not both. I prefer the latter.

  4. Well said:

    … to simply characterize the very idea of tax increases as beneath contempt or unworthy of serious discussion cheapens us and gets in the way of a serious discussion of the issues. …. Isn’t it time all of us grow up just a little bit and try to approach our problems thought[ful]ly and with the requisite seriousness called for by these times? Let’s leave the labeling and name calling behind.

  5. … the choice is between taxes today or jobs growth tomorrow; our leaders can have one but not both. I prefer the latter.

    What jobs growth?

    Connecticut is dead last since about the early nineties in jobs production. The state is in a deep jobs depression, Jack.

    The kant that all we have to do is “cut taxes” and “the market” will produce jobs is simply false. Repeating it endlessly will not make it true (irrespective of how well it arguable worked for Lee Atwater & Karl Rove).

  6. Connecticut is dead last since about the early nineties in jobs production. The state is in a deep jobs depression, Jack.

    On a related note, we implemented an income tax in 1991. Just saying.

  7. Redcoat,
    Why is it that the only hard or difficult decisions Democrats propose is raising taxes?
    There isn’t one Democrat proposing to get rid of wasteful spending of any kind whether it be redundant jobs, unconstitutional agencies, quasi-public agencies, or reformulating the benefits and retirement funds that are consuming most of our tax dollars. It’s always easier to raise taxes. This is the time to finally decide how big and how much government we need in our lives, not a time to see how much we can trick people into thinking thatraising taxes is the only answer just to keep the status quo and remain in power.

  8. Chris,

    Respectfully, I have no idea what you do for a living, but I ran a multi billion dollar international business for 30 years before I retired. There is a reason why CT is dead last in job production since the nineties. It’s the high cost of doing business in this state. That simply means taxes, and other unreasonable burdens placed on business, so our elected officials can appear to be looking out for the public interest. In fact taxes and the other business burdens are so high that even the supposed outstanding work force in this state can no longer compensate for this.

    Now I don’t want this to sound like I am some old conservative Republican like I am sure you will once again accuse me of being. I share a lot of the same views you do for us all. But Chris unless this state gets it’s financial act together this trend will continue to continue, and so much of what we both wish to be accomplished will continue to remain unaccomplished.

    I had this same conversation 15 or so years ago with some of the same people in the General Assembly that are still there today. I realized then, it was beyond their ability to understand, and that they viewed saving private sector jobs in this state as my concern, not their’s. With that knowledge clearly understood I was forced to send hundreds of jobs south, or out of the country. I was only one of many businesses doing that.

    I sadly see today, 15 years and thousands of more jobs lost latter, many of those in Hartford still accept no responsibility for their role in this unfortunate accelerating job loss trend. I must conclude they no longer don’t understand, but that they simply don’t even care.

    You can chose to believe what you chose to believe. I can’t help you there, but I will suggest to you as one who knows, that there is a very direct relationship between the cost of doing business and job growth….. Of course I mean job growth in the private sector, where the jobs that actually create any wealth to run our economy come from.

    Now if you have any ideas as to how we can tax and burden the living daylights out of business and still attract decent middle class jobs, let me know. I will be very willing to come out of retirement and help you attract them.

  9. …. all we have to do is “cut taxes” and “the market” will produce jobs is simply false.

    Raising taxes certainly hasn’t worked too well; BTW how’s that Diesel tax increase the Dems rammed through a few years ago working out?

    Have we collected even 98% if what we used to?

    Will your party ever admit even an “oops”?

    Where’s the bill to lower that tax to a point that maybe at least **some** of our Diesel fuel retailers could actually sell some????

  10. On a related note, we implemented an income tax in 1991. Just saying.

    To the best of my recollection, nobody has ever argued that raising taxes, per se creates jobs.

    Government spending can create jobs if, for example, you make buses in your state and your government decides to buy a bunch of buses from your bus manufacturers.

    Unless the buses aren’t made in your state, in which case buying those buses wouldn’t be stimulative. Maybe these buses will decisively improve the climate for business? If not, then buying buses is probably not going to bring about job creation.

    Increasing costs relative to the demand for your products or your competition is a losing proposition, obviously. So repeating that over and over again isn’t persuasive. Asking how to operate the government more productively is a better question.

  11. Asking how to operate the government more productively is a better question.

    Asking how much of it is even relevant is a better one.

  12. Increasing costs relative to the demand for your products or your competition is a losing proposition, obviously. So repeating that over and over again isn’t persuasive. Asking how to operate the government more productively is a better question.

    Actually, repeating it over and over would be persuasive, if our legislature was paying attention.

    Also, while government spending can “create” jobs (even temporary jobs, like construction or manufacturing buses, if we had any bus manufacturers in the state), it also costs jobs. The government takes in more money than it contracts out, so buying $1 million worth of buses costs a lot more than $1 million — and that money has to come out of the economy. If the goal is to put more money into the economy, government spending isn’t the way to do it — cutting taxes is the way to do it.

    This guy “gets it”:

    http://www.butasforme.com/tag/paul-ryan/

  13. With the tax climate that currently exists in Connecticut, as well as most of the states in the vicinity, why would any business choose to locate here versus somewhere else?

    We have some advantages over other states: you can charge more for stuff here than in most other states due to competitive reasons, purchasing power, etc. We may have a more educated populace, but many of the younger people choose to relocate to other states upon graduation. We also have a lot of disadvantages compared to other states: in addition to high taxes, electricity is very expensive here, wages are much higher, real estate is incredibly expensive, the weather isn’t as good (although today seems great outside!), etc. So raising taxes just puts another negative on the scale of good and bad things about the state.

    So while some businesses and people do move out when taxes go up, many of them would probably have moved anyway for other reasons. However, the real impact taxes has is that many fewer businesses choose to start operations in the state. They look at all the pluses and minuses of locating somewhere, and Connecticut can rarely be competitive.

    Unless the buses aren’t made in your state, in which case buying those buses wouldn’t be stimulative. Maybe these buses will decisively improve the climate for business? If not, then buying buses is probably not going to bring about job creation.

    Unlike road construction, which can’t really be done by the private sector, I’d submit the following question: if buses were to be beneficial, why wouldn’t a private company start a bus line? I guess you could argue that a bus line would create some sort of positive externality: it would allow people to get to places of employment who couldn’t normally get there. Presumably these people would not just be going to one factory (because if that were the case, the factory should really provide the bus service) but to many different locations. So I think the real test for adding a bus line would be first, could the fares pay for the bus driver costs, mechanical repairs, and cost of new buses? If so, then sure, do the bus line, but I don’t think this ever happens. The second question to ask would be if the bus line would generate enough secondary tax revenue to make them worthwhile: would the economic activity derived from the buses cause people to get better jobs so they were paying more taxes? I guess much like road construction analysis. (This is why I am always perplexed by Connecticut increasing funding for Metro North: when that railroad gets better, it actually reduces the state’s income tax receipts because it makes it easier for people to commute out of state and thus pay their taxes to Albany instead of Hartford. If Connecticut cut Metro North funding so the trains sucked, then many of the people going to Manhattan to work would get jobs in Connecticut, or they’d move to somewhere else, and their house would be bought by someone who worked in Connecticut.)…

  14. Government spending can create jobs if, for example, you make buses in your state and your government decides to buy a bunch of buses from your bus manufacturers.

    And you pay for the buses how? By taxing the income of the worker and the profit of the bus manufacturer. You can only repeat this process so many times and for so many businesses until it becomes unsustainable. In short, you take from everyone (all the other taxpayers) to benefit the few (the bus company and workers). You would have to purchase from every signle business in the state for this to be a legitimate model, and if you did that we would have absolute socialism.

    The only reason there is any inkling that the Federal government can approach this strategy is under the umbrella of deficit spending. Since they can just print money they don’t have to rob from the rich (at least not in the short term) to distribute the wealth.

    Since the state must have a balanced budget this strategy is not realistic. Because for every dime that we spend on these in state businesses we have to take it right back out.

  15. “To the best of my recollection, nobody has ever argued that raising taxes, per se creates jobs.”

    I think it is very well documented all across this state, and country as well, that raising taxes can, and in fact does create jobs………Public sector jobs…….. That means not just teachers, firemen, police, etc but all sorts of other local state and federal, government jobs. How else would we pay for all those jobs?

    The problem is not the use of our taxes to create and pay for these needed services. The problem is that there is no longer a reasonable balance between what the public sector is requiring to provide those services, and what the private sector can afford to pay.

    Unlike state government, businesses face world wide competition. The private sector simply cannot just raise the prices for their goods and services, or wave a magic wand to increase their income, like our state raises it’s taxes. To simply do so would quickly show the very direct and very negative impact that action would have on the jobs they provide.

    When was the last time any of us shopped around looking to find a higher price to buy a TV, or car, or airline ticket? In fact we all do exactly the opposite. We all look for and expect those businesses in the private sector to give us more for less, at improving quality. Why then do so many of us not expect state and local government to do the same?

  16. And you pay for the buses how? By taxing the income of the worker and the profit of the bus manufacturer. You can only repeat this process so many times and for so many businesses until it becomes unsustainable.

    OK, I’ll bite — how many times can you repeat that process and have it remain sustainable?

  17. OK, I’ll bite — how many times can you repeat that process and have it remain sustainable?

    Is there a definitive number? 3 businesses? 300 buniesses? no.

    But can you do this for every business? No, unless of course, you control the entire state economy and tax the citizens and businesses enough to support all of them. Or in other words, socialism.

    Will the process be sustainable at a 2% tax rate for a few businesses? probably. 4% with a few more businesses, maybe. 20% state tax rate and 20% of the businesses? No. 100% tax rate and all businesses? it hasn’t worked yet has it. Never mind the fact that government still must provide for the roads, education, safety, etc. sSo for every dollar they tax, they can only put a fraction of it back into businesses.

    But yet, we have people in power who think that we can and that we should use this government tax and spend model.

  18. Well said:

    … to simply characterize the very idea of tax increases as beneath contempt or unworthy of serious discussion cheapens us and gets in the way of a serious discussion of the issues. …. Isn’t it time all of us grow up just a little bit and try to approach our problems thought[ful]ly and with the requisite seriousness called for by these times? Let’s leave the labeling and name calling behind.

    This is rich stuff, indeed coming from the CLP mouthpiece for a guy who — despite being asked the question more times and in more ways than Carter has pills — just … c o u l d n ‘ t … q u i t e … g e e e e e e t … himself … to speak those magical words, “Yes, I support the Democrats’ tax plan.”

    Oh, sure, Mayor Forehead from New Haven said it. He’s not running for anything other than mayor again.

    But lily-livered Danny Malloy … no.

    Not for a guy from Fairfield County.

    Just didn’t quite have the sack for that.

    Now, Danny’s minions, oh sure, they’ll tell us how we need to tax the crap out of everything that moves and double-tax what stands still for it.

    But you won’t find Savvy Dan — for all the talk about the need for leadership and the need for revenue and his haste to call Rell a liar (talk about name-calling!) — saying anything anyone’s going to buy from CT-N and play back for the people of Connecticut to hear in September and October 2010.

    GMAFB

  19. Oh heck RedFive, you don’t have to pay for anything. Here ya go:

    There’s other stuff already available, and plenty more coming.

    A factual discussion of the real issues is something Malloy clearly seeks.

    Unlike the current occupant of the Governor’s office. And no wonder.

  20. A factual discussion of the real issues is something Malloy clearly seeks.

    No, he doesn’t. That clip is filled with presumptions and conclusions that indicate he doesn’t want a factual discussion of the issues: his mind is made up.

    Notice how he simply concludes that “progressive taxation has to come to Connecticut,” and blames Connecticut’s cities’ declines on our income tax, without saying a word about state or municipal spending. Apparently, to Dan, an increase from a $7 billion state budget in 1991 to a $17 billion state budget in 2006 is normal. He thinks Connecticut doesn’t have a spending problem, it has a taxing problem. That’s ridiculous. Are we 2 1/2 times better off, as a people, than we were in 1991? Of course not.

  21. … Are we 2 1/2 times better off, as a people, than we were in 1991? Of course not.

    No, we’re not. And what is desperately needed is Gubernatorial leadership that doesn’t begin with the blunt premise that government has no role in growing the economy and proceeds with a table pounding mantra that all we need to do is cut taxes and everything will take care of itself.

    Malloy wants a factual discussion of the issues, and you are welcome to watch every clip there to study his public statements, reasoning, and resume:
    http://www.youtube.com/malloyforconnecticut

    Somebody call MJR’s communications flak and tell him to twitter it.
    Better yet, let’s see her get in front of the camera and get into some details of her thinking on the role of government and how her next term would be different from this one.

  22. Notice how he simply concludes that “progressive taxation has to come to Connecticut,” and blames Connecticut’s cities’ declines on our income tax…

    He concludes no such thing. Watch it again. What he said is that the over reliance on property taxes is an important part of what makes managing Connecticut’s urban municipalities so difficult – citing New Haven as an example.

    Let’s work with facts, OK Jack?

  23. … Apparently, to Dan, an increase from a $7 billion state budget in 1991 to a $17 billion state budget in 2006 is normal. He thinks Connecticut doesn’t have a spending problem, it has a taxing problem. …

    Wrong.

    To Dan, a budget that grows more slowly than the rate of inflation is normal. An expanding economy is normal. A smaller public employee payroll accomplishing more for the citizens and businesses it serves is normal.

    That’s his actual record, Jack.

  24. That’s his actual record, Jack.

    Seriously – bringing up his record is going to be the last thing you’re going to want to do.

    He’s not some volunteer member of the zoning board; he’s a well paid big city mayor who obviously can’t keep his priorities straight.

  25. He concludes no such thing. Watch it again. What he said is that the over reliance on property taxes is an important part of what makes managing Connecticut’s urban municipalities so difficult – citing New Haven as an example.

    He expressly insists that we need to develop a more progressive income tax system — beginning around 1:05, “So, um, they’re going to have to do a lot of things, and, and, um, they’re going to have to embrace progressive taxation. So we have to look at a progressive taxation system. And people earning more money should be expected to pay a higher percentage of that in, uh, of the income above the prior ranking, above the prior level.” — and then he expressly blames our school performance on the current property tax system:

    …and then we’ve got to build a system that is very different to pay for education. More dependent on progressive taxation, and more dependent on sharing other tax sources with local governments to pay for education, which is, if you only allow local governments to raise money by property taxes, and we all know that property taxes don’t grow as rapidly as other forms of taxation then all’s you’re doing is making a system that’s more and more dependent on, on property taxes, and therefore raising property taxes relatively quickly. New Haven has very high property taxes, for instance. You know, you get people to move to a city, and you say, and for the, and because you decided to live in a city, you’re gonna be a little less safe, your public education system is not gonna be as strong, and we’re gonna charge you extra money. And so you wonder why, in Connecticut’s cities, some of our cities are falling further and further behind, it’s because of our crazy reliance on taxes — on local taxation, and property taxes in particular, as one of the reasons. So, we’ve got to build a system away from…

    Add two and two together, and it’s easy to infer that he thinks that our urban decline is due to the lack of a more progressive income tax system.

    Setting aside the fact that we actually have a progressive income tax system… he’s clearly blaming our cities’ maladies on their inability to tax more, and not their failure to spend less. He’s dead wrong.

  26. Setting aside the fact that we actually have a progressive income tax system… he’s clearly blaming our cities’ maladies on their inability to tax more, and not their failure to spend less. He’s dead wrong.

    Now here is an opportunity for some discussion of specifics.

    Looking at the budgets of New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford, where exactly are you saying spending should be cut? I’m not saying no such opportunities exist. I am asking you what, in particular, should be cut?

    Add two and two together, and it’s easy to infer that he thinks that our urban decline is due to the lack of a more progressive income tax system.

    It may be easy, but it is not the case. Watch the other videos available for some detail. Better hearing it directly from him than me (right, RedFive?)…

  27. ” — and then he expressly blames our school performance on the current property tax system:

    No, he doesn’t, Jack.

    Malloy’s focus is on pre-K preparation of children. See the video addressing exactly this area of opportunity (from the same Q&A) for his highly effective approach in Stamford.

    Listen carefully to what he says, because he tells us exactly what the chief obstacle to be overcome is and how it has been overcome in Stamford.

  28. Here is the link to the salient video on pre-K education:

  29. The long term solution to generating more tax revenue isn’t simply raising taxes – it is growing the tax base.

    You are in agreement with Malloy on this.

    But until government stops pretending to be the solution and starts being recognized as the problem, …

    Here is the difficulty I have with this statement: there is no there, there. That is, no government exists to recongize itself.

    And if such a sentient being did exist, would it recognize itself as the problem? C’mon. Is MJR going to wake up tomorrow morning, look in the mirror and recognize, [gasping] I am the problem? Nope.

    But if anyone should have that revelation, it is she.

    It will take a combination of cuts in programs and some tax increases to get the State and all of the 169 municipalities out of the financial hole. It certainly is more palatable to raise some taxes via the state than to cut off the cities and towns and force a property tax increase at the local level. If the state revenue drys up, that is what will happen. Property taxes will go up since there are services that each town and city must provide to its citizens.

    True.

  30. Looking at the budgets of New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford, where exactly are you saying spending should be cut? I’m not saying no such opportunities exist. I am asking you what, in particular, should be cut?

    I’ve never taken a close look at these cities’ budgets, but there’s no way I’m going to assume that they are operating at their absolute peak efficiency, or that cutting even a penny from any one of them would necessarily result in a reduction in their quality of life. Al, above, said it best:

    When was the last time any of us shopped around looking to find a higher price to buy a TV, or car, or airline ticket? In fact we all do exactly the opposite. We all look for and expect those businesses in the private sector to give us more for less, at improving quality. Why then do so many of us not expect state and local government to do the same?

    When jobs and development projects avoid these cities for their suburbs, which enjoy much lower levels of taxation, it’s pretty clear that taxes and spending are the problem, not the solution.

  31. When jobs and development projects avoid these cities for their suburbs, which enjoy much lower levels of taxation, it’s pretty clear that taxes and spending are the problem, not the solution.

    OK, so you agree with the broad premise that cities in Connecticut are at a disadvantage relative to the suburbs. That’s a start…

    I’ve never taken a close look at these cities’ budgets, but there’s no way I’m going to assume that they are operating at their absolute peak efficiency, or that cutting even a penny from any one of them would necessarily result in a reduction in their quality of life.

    I am not suggesting that we assume anything. Quite the opposite. My question to you is what, specifically, should be cut? It isn’t a rhetorical question.

    Not incidentally, Stamford is not in the same boat with these other cities because of the effective leadership Malloy has provided over the last fourteen years. ECS funding, to take one important element, is comparable to what the suburbs see. Imagine if this were true for Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford?

  32. Oh, yes, Chris, Stamford is a remarkable place. Why, it’s almost like … Heaven!

    All the men are strong and all the women are good looking and all the children are above average.

    AND MOST IMPORTANTLY … Everything good that has happened in Stamford has happened because Dannel has blessed that city with his … well … his Dannellness.

    And everything bad? Well, duh. That’s the fault of the state, silly. Everybody knows that. That’s why poor benighted Connecticut needs Dannel to shed his Dannellness on all of us now.

  33. OK, so you agree with the broad premise that cities in Connecticut are at a disadvantage relative to the suburbs. That’s a start…

    Yes. They are at a disadvantage, one of their own creation.

    Not incidentally, Stamford is not in the same boat with these other cities because of the effective leadership Malloy has provided over the last fourteen years. ECS funding, to take one important element, is comparable to what the suburbs see. Imagine if this were true for Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford?

    Yes, imagine if they were suburbs of New York City, too… there are few places with lower tax burdens than Connecticut, and NYC is one of them. If only all of our cities were 45 minutes away from New York.

  34. Yes. They are at a disadvantage, one of their own creation.

    To be sure, the cities have made some very poor decisions over a period of time, and Malloy has said he can be counted upon to hold them accountable for getting the job done going forward.

    Yes, imagine if they were suburbs of New York City, too…

    It simply is not the case that proximity produces the kind of success that Stamford has seen, Jack. Port Chester, New Rochelle, Yonkers, Pelham, Mt. Vernon… All these communities are closer to New York City, none is more successful than Stamford.

  35. … If only all of our cities were 45 minutes away from New York. …..

    You mean, like Princeton?

    This is a clip you should find interesting. Note the reference at about 1:56 into the clip.

  36. … there are few places with lower tax burdens than Connecticut, and NYC is one of them…

    Not sure what you mean here, Jack. According to the 2005 census numbers, New York has about 50% higher total tax burden than Connecticut.

    For your interest, I found this piece in the New York Times’ archive. It was linked in the comments of this post at NewsBusters.org.

  37. My question to you, Jack, remains: what specific cuts are you calling for in the budgets of the three largest cities: Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford?

  38. It simply is not the case that proximity produces the kind of success that Stamford has seen, Jack. Port Chester, New Rochelle, Yonkers, Pelham, Mt. Vernon… All these communities are closer to New York City, none is more successful than Stamford.

    This is an asinine argument. What do Port Chester, New Rochelle, Yonkers, Pelham and Mt. Vernon have in common, that Stamford does not?

    For your interest, I found this piece in the New York Times’ archive. It was linked in the comments of this post at NewsBusters.org.

    For my interest, comments like “New York’s services also cost more . . . because its work force of 270,000 (120,000 of whom work in education) is heavily unionized” were certainly interesting. So were “The position of Manhattan political elites has been, ‘Well, we can tax with impunity.’ What they never ask is, ‘Would we better off if we didn’t tax with impunity?’ ” and “We have a tax structure in this city that’s more dependent than ever on high-income businesses and individuals.”

    My question to you, Jack, remains: what specific cuts are you calling for in the budgets of the three largest cities: Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford?

    I’d cut every single departmental budget in half, and insist that every department prove why it deserved the second half in the coming year’s budget. I’d also farm out education to the suburbs: each of the cities you listed has the benefit of being surrounded by suburbs with very successful education systems — suggesting that the cities would be better off by burning their school systems to the ground and sending their kids to the suburb to learn. I’d also eliminate every single program that replicated a function that should be provided by a parent, because while citizens have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they don’t have the right to have a city raise their children.

    How’s that for starters?

  39. How’s that for starters?

    Well, its sweeping, no denying that.

    I’d cut every single departmental budget in half, and insist that every department prove why it deserved the second half in the coming year’s budget.

    So, zero based budgeting. OK.

    Do you have some examples of zero-based budgeting being implemented in the public sector? This was actually proposed locally (although some of its proponents acknowledged privately that it was not a serious proposal) and didn’t have any traction.

    I’d also farm out education to the suburbs: each of the cities you listed has the benefit of being surrounded by suburbs with very successful education systems — suggesting that the cities would be better off by burning their school systems to the ground and sending their kids to the suburb to learn.

    So in principle, you support the Sheff v O’Neill decision. OK.

    Surprisingly progressive suggestion. This was done in the late sixties as you might recall. Kids from New Haven were bussed into Cheshire, for one. One of those kids was my best friend in the first grade. Great kid, great parents. Got held back though, and then they terminated the program. Wonder whatever happened to that kid?

    Given a choice between busing kids from Bridgeport into the school systems of neighboring Stratford, Shelton, Trumbull, and Fairfield versus fixing the school system in Bridgeport, how do you think those communities would choose to proceed?

    I’d also eliminate every single program that replicated a function that should be provided by a parent, because while citizens have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they don’t have the right to have a city raise their children.

    I take it this does not include eliminating public education entirely, given your second paragraph. Not sure how much money this adds up to?

  40. What do Port Chester, New Rochelle, Yonkers, Pelham and Mt. Vernon have in common, that Stamford does not?

    Nothing. That’s my point. You assert that Stamford’s success is simply a function of proximity to NYC. That is demonstrably not the case, including the fact that there are a number of communities equidistant or closer to NYC than Stamford is.

  41. For my interest, comments like “New York’s services also cost more . . .

    Yeah, Jack. This was in response to your statement that NYC has a lower tax burden than Connecticut – what were you talking about?:

    … there are few places with lower tax burdens than Connecticut, and NYC is one of them…

    Did you mean the opposite?

  42. Chris,

    I know you didn’t ask me this question but I hope you ,don’t mind me giving an answer.

    “Do you have some examples of zero-based budgeting being implemented in the public sector? This was actually proposed locally (although some of its proponents acknowledged privately that it was not a serious proposal) and didn’t have any traction.”

    Well, the answer is “yes” and in fact, I was forced to operate this way for years. Once it becomes a mind set you would be amazed at just how many places you can look to find ways to save money. In fact there are also plenty of examples of public sector companies that are forced to go beyond zero based budgeting just to survive, and save jobs.

    If I may say this respectfully, I think you miss the point. At least some of us ( me included) who clamor for more spending restraint from the state before taking the easy way out by raising taxes are not out to strip government of the tools they need to provide the services we need. We are just looking for the state to do a better job of providing those services at an affordable cost. Right now the cost is very unaffordable.

    Cutting spending is never easy or fun, but to think that in an $18+ billion dollar budget there are not plenty of ways to reduce that expense while still providing the same or even better services, is really taking the easy way out. It’s done in the private sector every day. Why can it not be done in the public sector as well?

  43. If I may say this respectfully, I think you miss the point.

    Since I am the one trying to make the point, Al, perhaps you are mistaken:

    … Asking how to operate the government more productively is a better question.

    That should sound familiar:

    … At least some of us (me included) … are not out to strip government of the tools they need to provide the services we need. We are just looking for the state to do a better job of providing those services at an affordable cost. Right now the cost is very unaffordable.

    Referring you now, Al, ex post to my comment #23 above:

    To Dan, a budget that grows more slowly than the rate of inflation is normal. An expanding economy is normal. A smaller public employee payroll accomplishing more for the citizens and businesses it serves is normal. That’s his actual record …

    Fewer public employees providing better services to a larger population is status quo in Malloy’s Stamford.

  44. On this other point, Al:

    … there are also plenty of examples of public sector companies ….

    Perhaps it is mere semantics, however by “public sector” I intend government – i.e. municipal, county, state, federal. Unless you are referring to something in this realm, “public sector companies” appears to be an oxymoron. Give illustrative examples if I am mistaken, please.

  45. “public sector companies” appears to be an oxymoron

    To most of us, but not the President, this is true.

  46. Ah, Jack you’re back.

    Did you mean the opposite?

    That is, Connecticut’s tax burden is lower than New York’s?

  47. Chris thanks for the response,

    OK fine if the point you are making is that the actual size, and cost of state government can and should be reduced (not just reducing the rate at which it is growing ) and still provide all the same, or even better services than it currently does, then you and I are in total agreement.

    To be certain there is no additional misunderstanding here Chris, I am specifically suggesting that the General Assembly and the Governor must get on the same page here and find the ways that are certainly out there to honestly streamline government. Clearly I am not talking about just how many paper clips we can save, or an additional day or two off without pay, or a four day work week to save power. I am talking about unfixing, and actually lowering our fixed costs. I mean actually lowering them, and not playing a shell game with these expenses.

    Sure, that is not fun, it’s not easy, and it’s not pain free, but it has become unfortunately necessary. That will certainly mean not just reducing head count. Work rules, and compensation levels (pension and other benefits) must be addressed as well. They, as well as other expenses must be brought into line with the private sector, and in line with what the taxpayers of this state can honestly afford. This is not just critical now, but also going forward so they can be properly budgeted for each year, and not just passed on to our kids, as has been the practice for years, to hide this problem from the taxpayers.

    Is that what you are telling me/us in your post #43 that Dan Malloy understands is a necessary part of the solution to out of control government growth and waste? If so, is he really dedicated to the idea of not just talking about this when running for governor, but actually dedicated to taking on those failure to act “leaders” in the General Assembly from his own party, to get this done if elected? If so, then in that case I am very happy to say you have opened my eyes in that regard. If I misunderstand you here please correct me.

    As to my comment about there being “plenty of examples of public companies” that have to exist or try to survive using zero based budgeting I am guilty of a typo. I meant to say there are plenty of examples of “private sector companies” forced to operate that way to survive. It’s a mind set, but it does require discipline and a willingness to look for solutions that are not just on the surface. To me the General Assembly has so far just been kicking some dirt around the edges here, with a goal of avoiding any misunderstanding that is has any intention in doing any of it’s job here. Given it’s current incompetent leadership, I guess there should be no surprise that way.

  48. Is that what you are telling me/us in your post #43 that Dan Malloy understands is a necessary part of the solution to out of control government growth and waste? [sic]

    Yes.

  49. Is that what you are telling me/us in your post #43 that Dan Malloy understands is a necessary part of the solution to out of control government growth and waste? [sic]

    “Yes.”

    Chris,

    All politicians young and naive, as well as old and seasoned, claim to clearly “understand” what is necessary to bring about positive change when running for office. Yet somehow once (re)elected they seem to “understand” things less clearly. So I ask:

    Your “Yes” specially refers to what???

    Referring you now, “ex post”, to my post # 47 and specifically my comments there in paragraphs #2 and #3 of that post. Is that what your “yes” refers to? If so, does Dan Malloy have specific ideas as to how he will actually address and solve those specific issues?

    As I mentioned in that post we are way past the time that we can keep pretending the problem of out of control state growth can simply be managed with higher and higher taxes, accounting gimmicks, turning off lights, saving paper clips, and a few unpaid days off from work for state workers. Or, pretending there is still not untold millions, if not billions of dollars, that could be trimmed out of our state budget and still not cut services. Sadly the longer our elected officials chose to avoid addressing this issue the longer some of the solutions to some of our most pressing social issues will remain un addressed as well.

    I realize we didn’t mismanage ourselves into this mess overnight. It took the combined incompetence of our General Assembly, and Governor’s office, to get us here, so we are not going to wave a magic wand and overnight get out of this mess. But both parties must stop pretending we can continue to ignore some of the more significant reasons for our current problems if we hope to ever resolve them.

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