Good news: This year’s tax hike would only be $1.8 billion

connecticut-ryan-and-fisherJohn J. Ryan, a former Republican state representative, and Joshua Fisher, a Hersam Acorn editor, share their back-and-forth about news going on around Connecticut, among other items of interest.

Ryan: Who says that we revel only in bad news? The Bronx Bombers, expected to have an off year, are firmly in first place!

Editor: Yet another reason why Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman — a resident of our great state — would be an appealing candidate for governor. He sure knows how to exceed expectations. But what if he banned facial hair in Hartford? Would Ryan ever return?

Ryan: Ryan ( Unlike MacArthur ) is definitely not returning! But our state’s leaders seem to be ignoring all of the poor fiscal — see “State Deficit Continues To Worsen Amid Weaker Tax Revenue” (courant.com, April 30) — or bad  business news — see “RBS sheds jobs. N.A. loans” (blog.ctnews.com, April 28) — as they gleefully continue to spend more and more, and propose taxing everything in sight.

What’s the most important word in this recent headline: “Tax plan would boost revenues by $1.8 billion over two years” (ctmirror.org, April 29)?

Fisher: Would. It would boost revenues. Because four years ago, Gov. Malloy and the General Assembly gave Connecticut a record-breaking tax increase that has kept us right where we are: Facing gigantic deficits that Democrats tell us would be fixed by a gigantic tax increase. Remember this headline from 2011: “Connecticut Raises Taxes a Record $2.6 Billion for Budget” (bloomberg.com, May 4, 2011)?

At least the increase is $800 million less than four years ago. Maybe this means that in Gov. Malloy’s third term the tax increase will only be $1 billion.

And don’t forget — as tolls on our congested highways are creeping closer to reality — that programs such as the “Clean Elections Fund” are doing a better job serving candidates than the people they profess to serve. See: “Taxpayer-funded candidates spare little expense” (ctpost.com, May 2).

Ryan: We must have such unreasonable expectations. If Hartford continues to do the same thing it must be working. Right? Note: “Businesses fret over Dem’s tax hike proposals” (HartfordBusiness.com, April 30) and “CBIA shocked by legislature, issues call to action” (HartfordBusiness.com, May 1).

Fisher: Think how shocked Connecticut businesses will be when all the latest fee increases, surcharges and new taxes are put into place. Aren’t we lucky that our state government put a “spending cap” into place when the Weicker Administration gave us the income tax in the early ’90s?

Ryan: Ah… the spending cap. A great source of comfort for the taxpayers — and a great source of copy for reporters and columnists across the state. See: “Budget panel would blow by spending cap to restore social service, education funds” (ctmirror.org, April 27); “What’s The Point of a Toothless Spending Cap?” (courant.com, April 29); and, as only he can, Chris Powell puts it all into blunt perspective with “Oh, no! Spending cap in danger of working” (JournalInquirer.com, May 2).

Fisher: As the non-election-year legislative session nears an end, only one thing is clear: If you don’t work for the politicians in Hartford, there probably isn’t much good news for you when it comes to Connecticut state government.

But there’s hope: An informed electorate. Are you paying attention?

John J. Ryan is of counsel to the Fairfield County law firm Russo & Assoc., and served 14 years as Darien and Rowayton’s state representative — and has been writing this column for Hersam Acorn even longer. Joshua Fisher was an editor with Hersam Acorn for 12 years. He is now the company’s director of audience development and engagement.

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