Poor policy choices reflected in state budget

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

The people of Connecticut deserve better than what has happened to our state’s fiscal condition. Recent news of the depleted surplus and passage of a misleading budget is both disturbing and reflective of our unhealthy fiscal management.

Poor decisions have lasting impacts.

As of April 1, state officials predicted Connecticut would have a surplus of over $500 million this year. But today we now know the truth. Surplus predictions have plummeted to less than $50 million and our fiscal future looks grim.

The sharp decrease in the projected surplus highlights the poor planning and wishful thinking that went into the governor’s budget. Unfortunately, these overly optimistic forecasts remain in the budget passed by the General Assembly last weekend.

If all the gimmicks, one-time revenue sources and bonding were removed from the current 2014 budget the state would see an even more overwhelming and debilitating deficit of almost $1 billion.

In addition to the loss of revenue this year, the 2015 budget creates a deficit of nearly $3 billion through 2017. It also continues to utilize gimmicks, moves expenditures off the books to artificially reduce expenses and contains $27.1 million in additional fund sweeps, including raids to the Special Transportation Fund. On top of increased spending, it delays important tax breaks, including the sales and use tax exemption for clothing and footwear under $50.

It’s devastating to see these numbers, yet not surprising. We are stuck in a cycle of poor policy choices. Budget predictions were so off this year because people refused to see the truth. Unemployment is high, the economy is weak and tax revenues are down. The budget approved for next year only continues to mislead Connecticut citizens.

Legislators have a responsibility to make decisions that will protect the people of Connecticut today, tomorrow and for years to come. The majority party failed to meet that responsibility by passing a budget that puts the state on a path that will cause significant deficits in coming years.

I urge all lawmakers to recognize these truths. We cannot base future budgets on wishful thinking. We must be realistic to be effective.

 

L. Scott Frantz
Greenwich 

The author is the state senator for Connecticut’s 36th District.

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