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How state worker staffing hurts Connecticut

Once widely used, the now arcane term “featherbedding” describes perfectly the modus operandi of public sector unions in the state of Connecticut.

Webster’s dictionary defines featherbedding as “the requiring of an employer, usually under union rule or safety statute, to hire more employees than are needed or to limit production.” Wikipedia offers the same definition, elaborating that featherbedding involves “work procedures which appear pointless, complex and time-consuming merely to employ additional workers.”

A recent CT Mirror article on staffing in one of the state’s 15 prisons reported “According to figures provided by DOC [Department of Corrections], there were 139 corrections officers and supervisors for 78 inmates one day last month. That does not include medical or mental health staff assigned to the facility [Northern Correctional Institution].”

An isolated aberration? No.

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Dannel Malloy was unpopular, but his legacy is worse than you think

There’s a strange ongoing media fascination with former Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, including a Sept. 5 article “State employee OT is up, but salary costs are lower than a decade ago,” focusing upon his efforts to downsize the state labor force and negotiate wage concessions from state unions.

It’s a marvel that anyone is interested in someone who left office as the least-popular governor in the country.

But that’s the point. The recent article implies that Malloy’s unpopularity reflects an unfair assessment of his performance and that he deserves a resurrection. He doesn’t. He mismanaged the state labor force, achieving insignificant downsizing and perpetuating overgenerous wages.

Diversion, interception and conjury with state funds

First, it was diversion. Now it’s “interception.”

First, Gov. Ned Lamont diverted car sales tax revenue that his predecessor Democrat Dannel Malloy committed to the Special Transportation Fund (STF). Lamont’s diversion completely undermined public confidence in the “lockbox” that is supposed to protect transportation funds in the STF and destroyed any possibility for tolls.

At the very beginning of the budget process, Lamont announced that he would divert $1.2 billion of car sales taxes over five years, but, in face of a huge public outcry, he backed down, diverted only the $58 million in the current budget and promised not to divert funds from the STF in future budgets, Scout’s Honor.

Yet, now, we discover that Lamont is “intercepting” (diverting) revenue that is supposed to go into the General Fund and redirecting it to fund his off-budget, public-private partnership with billionaire Ray Dalio.

Single-use plastic bag ban could be costly for taxpayers

What if every smoker in Connecticut stopped smoking? What a boon to the health of the citizenry! However, the state would be out about $365 million in annual cigarette tax revenue.

Virtually the same thing just happened. The state’s largest retailers stopped offering disposable plastic check-out bags to customers Thursday, rather than begin paying Governor Lamont’s new 10-cent tax on each bag. The new state budget includes $55 million in plastic bag-tax revenue over the next two years. With the state’s retailers going cold turkey, that revenue is unlikely to materialize.

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.

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