This is a kooky budget cycle for several reasons.
Mayor Bill Finch wants to avoid a tax increase with reelection next year and State Rep. Chris Caruso breathing down his neck for another shot at the mayoralty. The Big Wave came up a few hundred votes short in a Democratic primary against Johnny Fabs in 2003 and Finch again in 2007. We’re just a year away from a full-blown mayoral campaign. Right now Caruso is the only threat between the mayor and his reelection, although other potential candidates may step up. Finch will have plenty of dough to make his case to voters. Caruso, not a relentless fundraiser, will have enough loot to stay in play.
The mayor has strung together a budget with a disengaged lame-duck GOP governor unwilling to help the state’s largest city, a state legislature shrugging shoulders saying hey we’ve got our own problems, and an electorate wondering what the future holds.
Strategically, the mayor has submitted a spending plan I cannot recall another chief executive doing openly. Essentially the mayor is saying the budget I’ve presented is not in balance, but we’ll balance it with millions in giveback cooperation from the government workforce. The bottom line to taxpayer reaction to the budget comes when the City Council sets the mil rate in June. Until that happens the budget-submission process largely is background noise. Yell, scream, this and that. It doesn’t matter until the tax bill comes the first week of July. If it’s the same, voters are happy. If it increases to reach voter frustration they’ll mold a voodoo doll in the image of the city’s chief executive.
So there’s a leap of faith in this budget process. If government employees step up again the mayor can proclaim thank you, we’ve done this against the worst economic calamity in our lifetime. If they don’t the other way to get there is layoffs. But what departments can afford the hit? Uniformed services are scheduled for negotiated wage increases the budget year beginning July 1 after agreeing to zero increases for a couple of years. And the budget proposed assumes the Board of Education maintains flatline spending.
What happens next year when a $25 million payment comes due for the city’s bond-financed pension obligation following a two-year moratorium approved by the Connecticut Legislature in the hope the market rebounds? Can the city get another extension? Stay tuned for a similar budget process: we’ve submitted a balanced budget if we get this, this and that. If not, say hello to a built-in budget deficit that must be closed whether by the incumbent mayor or a new one.
Dick Likes M&M, news release
Mindy Myers to Serve as Blumenthal for Senate Campaign Manager
HARTFORD, CT—Richard Blumenthal’s Senate campaign today announced that Mindy Myers will serve as campaign manager. Myers will take a leave of absence from the office of U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), where she serves as Chief of Staff.
“Washington needs an independent leader like Dick Blumenthal, who fights for people, never backs down from doing what’s right and isn’t afraid to stand up to the special interests,” Myers said. “There’s a lot at stake in this election, and I’m excited to work with the Blumenthal campaign team as we build a strong grassroots campaign throughout Connecticut.”
Myers also took a leave of absence during the 2008 cycle to serve as the Obama Campaign’s New Hampshire State Director in the general election. Before taking the reins of Whitehouse’s Senate office, Myers managed his 2006 Senate race, beating a popular Republican incumbent in a race critical to Democrats taking control of the U.S. Senate. Prior to that, she served as Senior Advisor and Political Director for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Myers served as Deputy Director for Constituency Outreach for Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000, and worked in the Legislative Affairs office in the Clinton White House. Myers will return to Whitehouse’s Senate office after the election.
“Mindy knows what it takes to win, and we’re pleased to have her leading our campaign team,” said Michael Cacace, the Blumenthal for Senate Campaign Chairman. “The campaign is off to a tremendous start – Dick had an exceptionally strong opening fundraising quarter; he’s traveling the state talking to voters about the issues important to them; and he’s continuing his extraordinary service as Connecticut’s Attorney General. He and our entire campaign staff are taking nothing for granted. With Dick and Mindy leading the charge, we will elect Dick Connecticut’s next U.S. Senator, and give the people of Connecticut something they sorely need: an independent advocate who will fight for them in Washington.”