In the waning days of the 2009 fiscal year, the legislature made the decision to borrow more than $1.2 billion in order to pay for the states operational expenses. In short, they opted to use the state’s credit card to pay the mortgage.
While other options existed at the time, including the most obvious, which was to actually do their job responsibly and look for spending cuts, the majority in the legislature then chose instead to throw all responsibility and common sense out the window in favor of the quick fix.
This irresponsible approach left Connecticut to face a $3 billion deficit last year. In attempt to take the easy way out once again, the leadership in the legislature voted for a $1.8 billion tax increase, the largest tax increase in state history.
Instead of addressing our state’s spending issue, the majority party chose to place the budget deficit they created on the backs of taxpayers.
Now, despite a record breaking tax increase, Connecticut is faced with another deficit, and not surprisingly, the lack of resolve on the part of our legislative majority has led to another fiscal crisis.
According to the Office of Fiscal Analysis, the projected deficit for the current fiscal year has reached $284.6 million. This skyrocketing deficit is due to a collection of issues, which the legislative leadership and the Governor have failed to address properly.
Unfortunately, this plan to close our deficit did not work out exactly as the majority had planned. The Governor’s anticipated savings, such as the “Employee Suggestion Box” and technology initiatives, which combined were suppose to generate $130 million in savings, failed to meet the mark and have left us once again up the creek without a paddle.
On top of all of this, our state’s income tax revenue has actually fallen by $173 million, further indicating that our state is still not creating enough jobs.
The Governor’s solution to fix our deficit problem this year is to borrow an additional $220 million to pay the bills. This approach was wrong when the legislature approved it in 2009, and it’s wrong today.
Nevertheless, with adversity comes opportunity. This deficit is yet another chance for us to finally do the responsible thing — reduce our spending. Many programs can and should be trimmed, or even eliminated in some circumstances. It’s never easy to eliminate a program, or take money from an organization or agency that is used to having it. However, as most of us know from our personal experiences either managing a household or a small business, in difficult financial times, it is the responsible thing to do.
We can’t continue to spend more than we make and we simply cannot keep borrowing more than we can pay back — the people of Connecticut and the hardworking people of the 105th district deserve better. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Hartford to fight for fiscal responsibility.
State Rep. Len Greene Jr. is a Republican who represents the towns of Seymour, Beacon Falls, and Ansonia.