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Posts published in “Connecticut Newspapers”

Driving holes through Gov. Lamont’s budget

Gov. Ned Lamont made much of delivering a budget on time this year. It may have been on time, but it wasn’t balanced, and still isn’t. And tolls wouldn’t balance future budgets, either.

Connecticut citizens may recall that Gov. Lamont promised hundreds of millions in current budgetary savings from a reduction of the state’s current contribution to the State Employees Retirement fund (SERS), without much mentioning that this entails even greater overall pension contributions over the 30-year span of amortization.

This scheme is a classic case of kicking the can down the road, with the can getting bigger in the process. Nevertheless, this past Thursday the governor announced triumphantly that he had union approval of the scheme, which “saves” roughly $2 billion through 2032 (about $270 million in the current two-year budget), but increases costs by almost $5 billion from 2032 to 2047.

Make my day: Lamont threatens to adopt GOP transportation plan

Gov. Ned Lamont is threatening to implement Republicans’ debt-financed transportation proposal, “Prioritize Progress,” if General Assembly Democrats don’t approve his tolls-funded transportation initiative. So the team captain tells his squad that, if they don’t follow his lead, he’ll defect to the opposing team? Strange.

On June 26th, The CT Mirror online newspaper reported that Lamont is threatening to reduce non-transportation borrowing and increase transportation borrowing, if the General Assembly doesn’t approve tolls.

To all Republicans and many Democrats in the Assembly and to the legions of Connecticut residents opposed to tolls, that’s a “make-my-day” threat, as in Clint Eastwood’s famous words in the movie “Dirty Harry.”

Lamont’s roads all lead to tolls

Gov. Ned. Lamont is being dishonest, although he may not realize it. Tolls won’t fund our transportation needs. The condition of Connecticut finances is so dire that it is inevitable that toll receipts will be diverted from transportation to cover ever-increasing state budget deficits.

Tolls revenue will merely replace current transportation funding, yielding no net increase in funding for roads and rails. In reality, tolls are just another funding source.

Jamming things through

Connecticut Democrats have just passed another tax-and-spend budget. Using their overwhelming majorities in the legislature, they jammed it through. Gov. Ned Lamont released the 527-page budget document on the afternoon of June 2. Less than 24 hours later, Democrats forced a House vote, passing the budget before Republicans and the public had much time to find out what was in it. Shades of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call to pass Obamacare to find out what was in it.

That’s how the Democrats are wielding their absolute power in Hartford. Things become irreversible facts before anyone knows enough to object, or to offer other views or alternatives.

Legislative Democrats are not the only ones pursuing this strategy. Lamont looks to be doing the same, if not worse.

Profiles in cowardice; or how not to vote

Democrats have absolute power in Hartford. They hold the governorship and 60 percent plus majorities in both houses of the General Assembly. They have the votes to do anything they want, but they don’t want to vote.

They began this year’s legislative session employing a novel process called “deemed approval,” under which the legislature approves something if a vote has not been taken by a certain date. It is the ultimate triumph of non-accountability.

Recently, they’ve changed strategy somewhat, replacing deemed-approval with a more conventional abdication of legislative authority to unelected bureaucrats at state agencies and appointed board members of newly created quasi-public commissions and authorities.

A surcharge on capital gains would push even more people out of state

Connecticut Democrats are hell-bent to notch another progressive milestone. They want to impose the nation’s first state-level surcharge tax on investment income, 2 percent on the capital gains and dividend income of high earners.

The surcharge would be unlikely to raise the roughly $262 million annually that Democrats say it would, but it would be virtually certain to drive more high income individuals out of a state already suffering an exodus. For the state, it would be a millstone, not a milestone.

Leadership lacking on Lamont’s toll plan

On the issue of tolls, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has shown a stunning lack of leadership. He hasn’t just made mistakes, he’s made nothing but unforced errors. His rudderlessness has been so complete that it will – and should – give citizens pause about anything he says or does.

First, he went back on a campaign promise. He ran on a trucks-only tolls system that has proved implausible, so he was challenged repeatedly. He asserted he’d get necessary federal approval and raise enough revenue just on trucks to meet the state’s future transportation needs. He dismissed constant questions about his plan’s legality, despite the fact a fierce legal challenge to a trucks-only proposal was raging, and still is, in neighboring Rhode Island.

Then, in his inaugural address, he took a coward’s way out by announcing he would send the legislature two proposals: his trucks-only campaign plan and an all-vehicles plan which, after study, he now favored. Evidently, Lamont believes the buck stops with 187 legislators.

Not all workers fooled by union schemes and propaganda

The two major public sector unions, SEIU and AFSCME have filed regulatory reports giving the first indications of the impact of last summer’s Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME that freed unionized public sector workers from forced payments to these unions.

The reports don’t reflect the impact of the Janus decision, so much as worker decisions and union action taken before the Supreme Court decision. Workers who had resigned union membership before the Court’s decision embraced their new-found right and ceased paying non-member fees (the fees they had been forced to pay before the decision). Both AFSCME and SEIU lost virtually all their fee-paying non-members, about 100,000 each.

Lamont’s ‘Twilight Zone’ transportation plan

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget is chock-full of contradictions and nonsensical fantasies – none more dramatic than his transportation agenda and his tolls proposal.

Lamont says the Special Transportation Fund (STF) is going broke. The STF, which finances all transportation projects and operations, has a balance of about $325 million. So what does Lamont do? He eliminates $1.2 billion of STF funding over the next five years. Then, he insists we need tolls as “additional revenue.”

If you think that sounds ridiculous, read Lamont’s actual budget presentation about the $1.2 billion in question, namely car-sales tax revenue. At the beginning of his presentation, he shows a graph of the STF assuming car-sales tax revenue under the transportation-funding policies he inherited from his predecessor, Dannel P. Malloy. The graph shows that, at the end of fiscal year 2024, the STF has a balance of $463 million. Lamont comments, “This is neither financially prudent nor sustainable.” Huh?

Follow Lamont’s bouncing budget

Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget is chock-full of contradictions and nonsensical fantasies, none more dramatic than his transportation agenda and his tolls proposal.

Lamont says the Special Transportation Fund (STF) is going broke. The STF, which finances all transportation projects and operations, has a balance of about $325 million right now. So what does Lamont do? He eliminates $1.2 billion of STF funding over the next five years. Then, he insists that we need tolls as “additional revenue.”

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