Pondering another run for statewide office in 2018, Trumbull’s Republican First Selectman Tim Herbst writes in a commentary decrying the state’s underfunded pension liability, “There is a pervasive culture in Hartford, where the elite believe there is one set of rules for them and one set of rules for everyone else.” The commentary also appeared in the Connecticut Post.
Connecticut’s pension fund is the second most underfunded in the nation.
For every man, woman and child in the state of Connecticut, there is $7,000 worth of debt to meet our unfunded pension obligations.
Recently, Governor Malloy struck a deal with state union leaders to extend pension payments, thus reducing the yearly amount that we must contribute. $13.8 billion in estimated pension expenses owed before 2032 will be passed on to future generations.
Independent studies contend that Connecticut’s actual unfunded pension liability is $76.8 billion, nearly 213 percent higher than what the state of Connecticut reported.
Our unfunded liabilities are almost three times the size of the entire state budget, which currently stands at $27.7 billion. In a state that has only 3.6 million residents and has seen our total state population decrease for the third straight year, unfunded liability is code language for future tax increases.
The people of Connecticut will continue to see a cost of living that their incomes cannot sustain.
Our unfunded liability and our current debt that we must pay down impact every municipality.
As the state faces rising financial obligations, this will mean further cuts to municipal aid and education reimbursement. As the state has trouble paying its bills, local municipalities will suffer. This adversely impacts property taxpayers when our local residents must respond to these cuts. With an anticipated $1.5 billion dollar budget deficit, our problems are both short- and long-term.
Those that talk about shared sacrifice should look in the mirror and ask themselves, “What can I do to lead by example?”
Last week, I made a Freedom of Information request for public documents relative to mileage reimbursement for state legislators.
Within less than 24 hours of making the request, I was personally attacked by the Senate majority leader and the Connecticut Democratic Party.
There is a reason why they attacked me rather than speaking to the issue at hand: This open-record request revealed that one state senator collected over $105,000 in mileage reimbursement over a ten year period. Under current state law, mileage reimbursement is counted towards a pension calculation when a legislator retires from their part time position.
This example underscores a larger problem.
There is a pervasive culture in Hartford, where the elite believe there is one set of rules for them and one set of rules for everyone else. Does anyone working in the private sector who sits on the Merritt Parkway and Interstate-95 for hours at a time every day get paid for driving to work, let alone given additional credits that count toward their retirement security?
Is it any wonder why Connecticut is broke? Republicans in the General Assembly have attempted to remove this perk for years and it has been consistently shot down by the majority party.
Mileage reimbursement counted toward pensions is just another example of how Hartford bureaucrats cannot get out of their own way.
A paid employee of AFSCME, which represents 15,500 state workers, is about to be elected the next Speaker of the House of Representatives in Connecticut–at a time when multiple labor agreements will be up for re-negotiation.
In 2014, Governor Malloy nominated–and the legislature confirmed–two lawyers to become judges, who will serve less than four years and receive pensions in excess of $100,000. How can we expect our leaders to solve our fiscal problems when they are among the most chronic abusers of a mendacious system that places Connecticut taxpayers at the back of the line?
Just as Governor Malloy and the majority party have passed on $13.8 billion to future generations to pay for, one thing is clear. The state of Connecticut is ready for a new generation of leadership.