Budget Optimism Evaporates

Never mind:

Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and Sen. President Donald Williams said no progress was made during Wednesday’s budget negotiations and no future meeting was scheduled.
Frustrated with the lack of a budget, Williams said “we have moved substantially toward her position,” but “we need to have her come just a little bit toward us.”
“We believed our proposal would get us a budget agreement,” Donovan said without giving away any details about what exactly had been offered to Rell.

Rell also called Democratic optimism, expressed yesterday, as “very premature”. Then the rhetoric kicked into high gear: Rell accused the Democrats of proposing an “unsound” budget that relied way too much on taxes, while the Democrats accused Rell of protecting the wealthy at the expense of the poor. It’s the same old argument, really. Lather, rinse, repeat, and end up getting nothing done.

One interesting tidbit in the Capitol Watch story is that Democrats may vote on their own budget at a special session on August 27th.


24 responses to “Budget Optimism Evaporates

  1. Dems are in a tough position….

    First, they can’t get their ‘super majority’ to act and pass their budget without the Governor.

    Second, if they did pass a budget without the Governor, they will be saddled with the crap budget and all the tax increases.

    I think Donovan and Williams shot their feet by spouting off yesterday that a deal was close, setting high expectations…. only to let everyone down today.

    I wonder if it was Donovans new $168k/yr pr guy that arranged that? Boy wonder?

  2. We pointed out that the Dems didn’t rule out voting on a budget w/ Rell also:

    Donovan and Williams went as far to say that it’s possible they will vote on another budget next week even if they don’t have a deal with Rell.

    “Obviously we’re not ruling out anything at this point. We would like to have the governor’s agreement, but our basic goal is to have a budget for the state of Connecticut before September,” Williams said.

    They might be able to vote on a budget, but they won’t be able to get the override if Rell vetoes it. Donovan even admitted back on Aug. 12:
    “We don’t have a supermajority and it’s as simple as that,” Donovan said after being asked why the Democratic majority isn’t talking about passing their own budget.

    Should be interesting to see out what happens.

  3. Oops we meant to say w/o Rell in the first sentence.

  4. Tomorrow’s Courant editorial takes both Rell and Donovan/Williams to task re: playing the public/press game. Donovan/Williams were trying to pressure Rell yesterday by raising the expectations of a deal, with the ‘meet everyday’ routine. All the press/bloggers ran with it, but unfortunately for Donovan/Williams, Rell didn’t get the memo.

    It also looks like the frustration of negotiating in private is starting to get to them, with the leaking of the supposed adjustments to the democrat’s sort of adjustment to their position on raising the income tax.

  5. What motivation does Rell have to reach an agreement? I mean, if there’s no budget, doesn’t she more or less decide what happens? So unless Donovan and Williams can get the Dems in line for a veto override, why should Rell compromise? There doesn’t seem to be any consequences for not having a budget. Yeah, the local municipalities don’t know how much they get, but what else?

    What have Donovan and Williams agreed to? They say they’ve moved towards Rell’s position. By how much?

  6. let’s not try to rewrite history. The fact is that GC is the one who attempted to set false expectations by claiming that budget meetings would be held “even when it’s nice out.” So clearly, GC is the obstacle blocking progress with his lies!

  7. AndersonScooper

    So happy that neither the Governor nor the Legislature is responsible for a budget. I bet the stalemate runs into October.

    Of course with a Democratic governor, taxes would have been doubled by now…

  8. Of course with a Democratic governor, taxes would have been doubled by now…

    Well, maybe not doubled… but we’d have $2.2 billion at least in increases… and prob yet even more high paid press secretaries for Donovan. The just don’t get it.

    I bet they pass another budget next week, short of enough to over ride (again).

    So much for a super majority Donovan seens to deny exists.

    I, for one, am mostly annoyed that yet again, all the negotiating is being done behind closed doors.

  9. Stamfordinho

    The same legislators who want a $1.8B+ tax increase right now will want another $1B+ tax increase in two years, since the “stimulus” funds will not be there while the expenditures continue …

  10. In two years, they will want closer to $5B in new taxes. They will use $1.5B from the Rainy Day fund, $1B fed stimulus money, $.78B in one-time union ‘concessions’, need $.3B in ‘make-up’ pension contributions, approx. $750M to $1B in securitization and other borrowing. This is all on top of the recissions and other found money (sweeps, etc.) that they have already used and will no longer be available. In all likelihood, to reach a deal, both Rell and the Donovan/Williams will use overly optimistic revenue/job/spending projections, which will push the 2012 budget further into the red.

    Anyone think of a good reason to encourage your college age children to come back to Connecticut?

  11. Can’t think of one. And I can’t think of any reason to plan on staying here after retirement.

  12. Most media outlets in Connecticut have called for a speedy resolution of budget negotiations now being held in camera by the governor, a few Republicans and leaders of the Democratic controlled legislature.

    The problem here is that all these so called budget “negociations” are being held behind closed doors, out of view of the public. So, one must accept at their word conflicting reports of the discussions.

    Naturally, there are two widely divergent accounts of the secret meetings.

    Here’s what we know: Rell and the Republicans are heavily outnumbered. The Democrats could if they wished pass their own preferred budget over Rell’s objections. Indeed, she has challenged them to do just this. It is possible they declined for politically expediant reasons: It was not in their long term interest to present a bill in the public square.

    In the past, Republican governors and the thimble full of Republicans in the legislature have shown themselves to be amenable to pressure from Democrats. But in the past, the question was: How do we spend budget surpluses? Answer: Quickly and thoroughly, without a thought for the morrow.

    What makes negotiations different this time is a crippling budget deficit.

    Both the Republicans and the Democrats have staked out their positions: Democrats want little or no cuts in public service, and they want a permanent readjustment upwards in the income tax, so that the so called “rich” — mini-millionaires now proportionally assuming the brunt of taxes — will pay more of their “fair share.” The bulk of the deficit, in the meantime, has been caused precisely by the disproportion in tax payments surrendered by Connecticut’s Gold Coast malefactors of great wealth: The recession has diminished their income, and consequently they have ended up paying less in taxes, resulting in less revenue for the state.

    To offset this loss, Republicans want more budget cuts.

    The Democrat’s first public offer was to raise taxes to cover the deficit.

    Well, that fish wasn’t going to fly, and the Democrats knew it when they make the offer.

    In the meantime, after the clock had been run out and the fiscal year ended, public negotiations gave way to secret negotiations.

    At this point, the discussion was moved from open legislative hearings to secret conclaves. Neither the public nor the tribunes of the public were admitted to the proceedings. As a result, the media became dependent on reports leaked from various press offices.

    Amazingly, the “right to know” media has not called for an end to these secret negotiations. Indeed, it has encouraged them. These are the same people who scream and stamp their feet when the public’s business is conducted in private.

    Republicans, if they were wise in the ways of politics, should move in the future to end all non-public bipartisan budget discussions. It borders on insanity to put pressure through freedom of information complaints on private negotiations of public business while at the same time winking at back room budget negotiations. The budget touches the lives and liberties of more people in Connecticut than any other single legislative effort, and responsible media in the state should be ashamed to support any process that makes such decision less transparent than, say, jury deliberations.

  13. I’m humored by the notion that it is Rell that is being fiscally responsible here….the fact is the budget Rell has proposed is extraordinary fiscally irresponsible….perhaps the most fiscally irresponsible proposal we’ve seen in Connecticut. The fact is, it is hard to imagine any tax and spend liberal would even dream of coming up with something so outrageous. By borrowing $1 billion for the FY 08 budget (cost to tax payers will be well over $2 billion), then using the entire $1.4 billion rainy day fund, raiding the many set-aside funds and using the one time federal stimulus dollars to pay for on-going expenses, the Governor proposes to build a $4 plus billion structural deficit into the CT budget for FY12. People can complain all they want about the Democratic proposal (they too have their share of gimmicks and tricks) but at least it reduces the structural deficit going forward. Rell’s budget proposal is more then irresponsible…it not only shifts the burden forward by two years but increases that burden exponentially. The useless rhetoric is going to lead to disaster. The time has come for our elected officials to make the difficult choices necessary to put Connecticut back on track —- and that means rejecting Rell’s approach and adopting something more fiscally responsible.

  14. While Nero fiddled, Rome burned… let us learn from that lesson.

  15. “The time has come for our elected officials to make the difficult choices necessary to put Connecticut back on track —- and that means rejecting Rell’s approach and adopting something more fiscally responsible.”


    What it really means is dramatically cutting the size, and cost, of state government, while at the same time increasing the services it offers without increasing our taxes to fund the on going waste. To that end both Donovan and Williams must either go along with that idea, or just go…….. I suspect until they both go we will be stuck in living with the on going waste funding their special interests at the expense of those in real need.

    Of course I assume you are honestly more concerned about getting the best bang for our tax buck, for those most in need, and less concerned about anything else.

    For what it may be worth to you…….Don’t cut my taxes, just spend more of them on those in real need.

  16. jonpelto said:
    The time has come for our elected officials to make the difficult choices necessary to put Connecticut back on track

    Okay – let’s see something creative that doesn’t include all sorts of business killer tax and/or fee hikes.

    Gimmicks don’t offend me one bit; clever tricks are alright too.
    (Smoke & mirrors are fine by me too – after all I sold cars in a showroom environment decades ago!)

    How about whacking the millionaires *with* a carrot at the other end (if they stick around and pay it) with some sort of credit over a 3 or 4 year period; while we roll the dice and get aggressive where we should; sin-taxed items and road fuels.
    People should be traveling into Connecticut to buy those items not out.
    Those that retail such goods would need to hire people; as we’ve already witnessed near the RI border in some tobacco shops thanks to RI’s new highest in the nation $34.60 per-carton cigarette tax.

    Connecticut is NOT responsible for the tax shortages in surrounding states. Quite the contrary, we should exploit our superior geographic location to the best interests of our citizens.

    OUR Connecticut businesses would prosper, and *our* Connecticut consumers would have more disposable cash left at the end of the week.

    If it works the way it should we would have no trouble taking care of the wealthy that pull us out this mess this year.

    Trimming the size of state gov’t a little deeper via attrition wouldn’t kill us either. (That doesn’t mean we have to use a meat cleaver.)

  17. “…but at least it reduces the structural deficit going forward.”

    What jonpelto means by a solution that reduces the “structural deficit going forward” is one that permanently raises the level of spending; that is what the income tax did.

    Members of the Obama administration — who intend, like state Democrats, to tax the rich to support money saving programs – if they were honest, would tell you that such solutions may be unnecessary. The recession appears to be ebbing, and federal programs will provide jobs, which will provide future revenues.

    What the state needs is spending cuts.

  18. I recall a few years when I was running for state rep as the challenger. Someone called me to say I had his support.


    ECS was getting cut and the DOT was laying wood chips on the Merritt.

    My point?

    Somebody needs to starting goring oxes to reestablish baseline priorities. Unfortunately, NO ONE wants to do it.

  19. I offer one place to consider cost reduction (or a request for reimbursement)… I-84 and the storm drains to nowhere. What exactly was the Chief Inspector, William Fritz – son of Mary, doing that he didn’t notice the catastrophe in the making? And where is Blumie on this? He began his “investigation” two or three years ago.

    As the NYTimes described CT post-Deluca… the legislature took away the power of subpoena from state’s attorneys a few decades ago… specifically because they asked too many questions of legislators.

    Scoop, Matt et al… you can have a Dem legislature… but give us a good (collectively speaking) legislature! The last time I recall one of them speaking out against their own was Joan Hartley. And no offense to Senator Hartley (I’d vote for her)… but that was a billion dollars! How many times do legislators see a million bucks getting wasted here or there… and they just let it go… either because they want the favor returned… or because they feel there’s no way to implement positive reform when (collectively-speaking) The Gang of 187 is morally corrupt?

  20. maybe “morally” wasn’t the right word… but I wanted to distinguish between their (collective) bad behavior and real corruption.

  21. Al, ACR, Tim you make good points that deserve attention. There are things we can, should (and must) do to make government more efficient. For a variety of reasons (some understandable and some not) government has not spent the time or energy setting priorities or making tough choices.

    This is true for both the expenditure and revenue side of the budget. Making greater use of Connecticut’s extensive nonprofit human service providers, while, over time, shifting existing state employees in direct service positions to quality control and oversight is just one way to meet growing demand for services at reduced cost.

    At the same time, having the courage to go back and really examine our sales tax system is also important – for the reasons you point out ACR and for fairness.

    Go look at the sales exemptions – some listed at http://www.ct.gov/drs/cwp/view.asp?a=1477&Q=269920&drsPNavCtr=|40829| to review the strange patchwork we have adopted (often thanks to effective lobbyists).

    Car Seats exempt (sure makes some sense, public policy to promote the use of car seats), Rare or antique coins and shoe repair — not so sure…so why are the rest of us subsidizing rare coin purchases. The list goes on and on. We make it virtually impossible for some CT business to compete and then provide un-needed or inappropriate incentives for others. Call them tax breaks or tax expenditures – it equates to hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies—-some of which make little to no sense.

    In the end, the real problem is that running an $18 billion dollar government is complex and takes real attention at a time when the sound-bite has become the primary mechanism of governance. Maybe if we all collectively demand more – we’ll get more. Not sure what the alternative is….

  22. >>The list goes on and on.

    And includes vehicles with -0- Connecticut content.

    An anomaly as most vehicles worldwide have *some* CT content; only Toyota’s don’t – why on earth we put up with that is anyone’s guess.

  23. A few years back I remember reading that the Post Office wanted to charge $.05 per email. They were losing money because of the widespread use of email and they needed to make up that revenue shortfall. They were laughed at because the Post Office provides no service to email and they had absolutely no justification for imposing such a tax.

    The state provides no service for most goods. A few things could arguably be justified, like a gas tax for road maintenance, but the state has no business interfering in most private transactions. Now instead of making the case for lower taxes, we see so-called Republicans making the case for making more people pay taxes without receiving a service. Typical. New England. Republican. NeoCon.

  24. Correction: the email tax was a hoax. Although it was pervasive enough that Hillary Clinton was once asked about it in a debate (she said she was against it.) But the principle remains the same.

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