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Posts published in “Connecticut Newspapers”

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.”

What exactly is Lamont’s plan for our schools?

Remember the Democrats’ plans to force the consolidation of school districts statewide? The plans were met with a firestorm of opposition in February.

Governor Lamont claims he’s heard the hue and cry, and has revised his consolidation proposal (Bill No. 874) to make it voluntary, proposing to use financial incentives, instead of force, to encourage towns to consolidate schools.

Hazards of hospital-tax reliance

Certain bank branches are robbed repeatedly, but none as regularly as Connecticut has been raiding its hospitals for enormous tax payments – ever since former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy began the practice in 2011.

There was supposed to be tax abatement this year, but, now, Gov. Ned Lamont proposes to continue the raids to close almost half of the $1.5 billion deficit for next fiscal year’s $20 billion budget.

You may wonder why the state is taxing hospitals.

Here’s why. The hospitals are actually collateral damage. The real target is the U.S. Treasury via the Medicaid program.

Got a Green New Deal revolution? ‘We’d all love to see the plan’

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is a genuine marvel. Everything the New York Democrat does becomes headline news, but nothing quite compares to her utopian Green New Deal, which has been endorsed by most of the Connecticut delegation of Democrats in Congress.

The GND aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2029 (we just snap our fingers, right?) while simultaneously creating economic nirvana where each and every American wants for nothing.

Overhanging the frenzy is the notion that she should be forgiven for her wild pronouncements — does she make any other kind? — because she is young, inexperienced, and passionate. Crimes of passion are to be forgiven, right?

But what’s the excuse for the old men – and women − who’ve signed onto her adventures, or misadventures, such as hounding Amazon out of New York City?

Paid-leave scheme unaffordable, ill-timed

The tax-and-spend impulse is so deeply embedded in Connecticut Democrats, it should be considered a genetic trait.

Take Gov. Ned Lamont. At the beginning of his budget address Feb. 20, he warned of a $3.7 billion two-year deficit, saying, “The fiscal crisis before us is not just a short-term hole in the budget. We are digging that hole deeper by $400 to $500 million annually due to fixed costs, such as pensions.”

After that opening, he gave lip service to solving the fixed-costs problem, and, then proposed a paid family-and-medical-leave program, “funded via a payroll tax on employees of approximately 0.5 percent, which will raise an estimated $400 million annually” – in other words, a new program costing the equivalent of those fixed costs.

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