2:30 p.m. update: July 1, start of a new budget year for the state’s largest city without a state budget … yet.
If you’re a bean counter in the city it could be worse: the Democratic-controlled legislature could be run by the GOP. Why does any of this matter?
As tax bills arrive this week, the loot city taxpayers shell out to fund city services is based on a leap-of-faith budget passed by the City Council for what it expected to receive from the state had it passed a budget under the normal course of legislative action. Yeah, I’m confused too.
For instance, roughly 75 percent of eduction funds for the city comes from the state. Let’s say a spending compromise that legislative Dems reach with the governor in a special session lowers education loot for the city; local education officials must do a dance to address the shortfall.
And suppose legislative action fails to provide the city a moratorium on meeting future pension obligations to uniformed services (something the city wants pending economic turnaround)? Whoa, instant shortfall.
The budget proposed by legislative Democrats is kinder to the city than Governor Jodi Rell’s budget. Discussions are underway for a compromise. Meanwhile, Rell issued an executive order authorizing funding of government services because the state is not operating with a budget. She also today vetoed the Democratic budget. See Mother Rell’s veto message to the secretary of state, followed by executive order news release below:
July 1, 2009
The Honorable Susan Bysiewicz
Secretary of the State
Dear Secretary Bysiewicz:
I am returning to you without my signature Senate Bill 1801, An Act Concerning the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2011, and Making Appropriations Therefor.
The flaws and failures of the tax and spending proposals contained in Senate Bill 1801 are manifest. It is neither balanced nor remotely realistic in its assumed “savings” and “spending cuts.”
Instead of reducing spending as families and businesses across Connecticut have done, Senate Bill 1801 does nothing to reduce the size or cost of a government that has outgrown the taxpayers’ ability to pay for it. Rather, it pushes the pain of sacrifice off the state bureaucracy and onto the state’s taxpayers. I cannot allow that to happen.
Senate Bill 1801 calls for $2.5 billion in new taxes on the people and employers of Connecticut in the midst of the greatest global economic downturn since the Great Depression: exactly the wrong move at exactly the wrong time.
At a time when states surrounding and near Connecticut are raising income, sales and business taxes, Connecticut has the opportunity to become a beacon of opportunity. Holding the line now – making difficult but necessary decisions about state spending now, as Connecticut families have done about their own expenses – will make Connecticut a far more attractive and affordable place to live and do business, keeping and attracting the jobs that are essential to recovery from the current recession.
What is more troubling, however, is the abject failure of this budget to reduce state spending in any meaningful way – and that the failure to do so will all but guarantee sizable budget deficits for years to come. These deficits would inevitably result in still higher taxes falling more and more heavily on Connecticut’s already over-burdened middle class.
Connecticut must not squander this unique – and fleeting – opportunity to make state government more affordable. We must keep in mind that in future years we will no longer be able to rely on revenue sources such as the federal stimulus, the state’s Budget Reserve Fund and cash balances in unappropriated funds.
The “savings” and “cuts” proposed in this budget are largely unachievable. Senate Bill 1801 proposes unidentified cuts in state agency expenses of $70 million, without providing any detail as to how these cuts will be made – especially in light of the legislative majority’s fierce and continuing resistance to serious program cuts.
Equally dubious are the “savings” supposed to be achieved by the “Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes” ($56 million), “reinvention” ($27 million) and by nebulous “management reductions” ($25 million).
In addition, Senate Bill 1801 calls for the state to raise more than $112 million in revenue from the “sale of state assets” – again, without details, except to task the Office of Policy and Management and the Treasurer with generating a list of items to be sold.
The bill also proposes to close two state prisons – but does not identify the prisons or make any provisions for dealing with the prisoners who may be held there now.
While proposing these spurious “savings” and “cuts,” Senate Bill 1801 fails to account for major expenses. There is no funding for the raises contained in three recent arbitration awards the General Assembly allowed to become final – a $42 million oversight. Even more shockingly, there is no funding whatsoever for the Department of Transportation or the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The legislation is therefore incomplete and built upon phony cuts and phantom accounting.
At the same time, the bill adds new earmarks, among them a deeply troublesome precedent that, for the first time, requires the state to reimburse municipalities for the property taxes that would otherwise be paid on land occupied by federal facilities. One can only wonder if the state would eventually find itself reimbursing communities for the property taxes “lost” to U.S. Post Offices and federal courthouses.
These are only some of the numerous – and fatal – flaws contained within Senate Bill 1801. It is unbalanced, unaffordable and unfinished.
Accordingly, pursuant to Section 15 of Article Fourth of the Constitution of the State of Connecticut and Article III of the Amendments to the Constitution of the State of Connecticut, I am returning Senate Bill 1801 without my signature.
Rell news release
Governor Rell: Executive Order Continues Funding for State Operations While Budget Talks Continue
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced she has signed an Executive Order that will ensure the continued efficient operation of state government until a new, two-year state budget has been signed into law. The action is necessary because Wednesday marks the beginning of a new fiscal year for Connecticut but the General Assembly and the Governor have not yet completed negotiations on a new budget.
The order also provides specific dollar allotments to state agencies for the month of July 2009 so that they can continue to function. A new Executive Order would be issued if August nears without a budget in place.
“First and foremost, people should rest assured that state government will continue to operate – services will be delivered; we will care for the vulnerable and the sick; public safety and public health will be protected,” Governor Rell said. “Negotiations between my Administration and legislative leaders from both the Republican and Democratic caucuses are continuing.
“I remain hopeful that we will resolve the budget issues that divide us and bring an affordable, responsible budget proposal to the General Assembly for a vote in the very near future,” the Governor said. “In the interim, I am taking all of the steps necessary to ensure that state government functions smoothly.”
Under Executive Order No. 28, Governor Rell declares that a fiscal emergency exists because there is no budget. The order directs agency chiefs to limit all purchases to only those items essential to continued operations.
“All state parks remain open, all services will continue and the public should see no change in state operations,” Governor Rell said.
Cougar Rodgerson gig tonight. I wonder if Yahooy and Anna will show?
Barely legal, scary, noisy psychodramatic recession buster at Murphy’s Law. Avant femme folk and totally hollowed out protopaleo-garage rock. Free show, $2 beers.
Circuit des Yeux from Indiana with Bridgeport/NYC’ own The Chinese Restaurants (feat. Loy Fankbonner and Keith Rodgerson)
Why pay $10 in Williamsburg? Bridgeport is the new Newark!
Fish and Fireworks Tonight, Congressman Jim Himes To Throw Out First Pitch
Game Tonight! – Fireworks Extravaganza presented by Dietz & Watson
Join the Bluefish at Harbor Yard for fireworks and a chance to win $10,000
(Bridgeport, CT – July 1, 2009) – The Bluefish play the final game of their three-game series against the Camden Riversharks tonight at 7:05 p.m. The Ballpark at Harbor Yard gates open at 6:05 p.m. for “Winning Inning Wednesday,” and the chance to take home $10,000. Following the game, all fans in attendance will be treated to a Fireworks Extravaganza, courtesy of Dietz & Watson.
Bridgeport looks to sweep Camden as Bluefish ace and former Major Leaguer Esteban Yan squares off against Riversharks starter and former Bluefish, Ryan DiPietro. All fans can enjoy the action as the Bluefish look to light up the opposition before they light up the skies.
Tickets for tonight’s game are available by visiting The Ballpark at Harbor Yard Box Office or calling (203) 345-4800. Fans can also CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.