Fairfield Letter: Time To Stop Fiscal Mismanagement In Hartford

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- The Fairfield Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to fairfield@dailyvoice.com.

To The Editor: 

During my 35-year career at GE Capital, I have learned that businesses abide by fairly simple rules. Most important among them is that expenditures must be kept in line with revenues; excessive spending and borrowing will ultimately lead to financial ruin.

In the public sector, it seems that the rules aren’t as simple, and Gov. Malloy’s 2014-15 budget proposal is a perfect example.

Ignoring recommendations from fellow Democratic Comptroller Kevin Lembo, the governor’s office claimed the two-year budget had a built-in surplus of $22.3 million. In reality, a March report by the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis found a $70 million hole in the proposed budget for this coming fiscal year and a $1 billion shortfall in each of the next two fiscal years, beginning in July 2015.

This act of budgetary dishonesty inhibits us from making sense of our current financial situation and leaves our state vulnerable. However, while the numbers may be hard to decipher, the everyday reality is not: Connecticut residents are hurting. We face the highest per capita tax burden and largest per capita state debt in the nation. Recent college graduates, retirees and businesses are fleeing the state and moving to areas with lower taxes, better job prospects and friendlier business environments.

The root of the problem can be found in years of reckless financial decision-making in Hartford. According to the Yankee Institute, since 1970 state spending has increased more than 250 percent, nearly triple the growth rate of per capita personal income. During this same period, Connecticut’s population has only grown by 18 percent.

To cover this imbalance, the governor and his legislative allies have instituted unprecedented tax hikes. In 2011, 77 new taxes and fees were implemented, increasing the burden on businesses and citizens by $1.9 billion. Given our current and forecast deficits, it is clear that no amount of taxation can account for our state’s insatiable spending habits.

Connecticut is clearly upside down financially, and Malloy’s budget will only add to the problem. At the same time, many politicians have become deaf to the cries of Connecticut citizens. What we need are leaders at the capitol who will take a practical approach to our state finances in order to retain and restore this excellence.

We must scrutinize the budgets of each and every state department and agency. An expenditure in one year should not automatically become an expenditure in the next—we cannot sustain a self-perpetuating and ever-expanding bill for state services.

We need to reduce the tax and regulatory burdens on people and businesses. And, we need to work to pay down our debt so that residents can begin to see a light at the end of this dark, dreary economic tunnel. Faith in Connecticut’s future is one of those intangible factors which politicians can influence only through sound financial action, not a $55 “feel good” rebate check at the end of the tax year.

Some of these decisions will be tough, but what family or business hasn’t had to make difficult decisions in the last five years? The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging. In the upcoming elections, let’s take the shovel out of the hands of the big-diggers in Hartford by sending people with common sense to the state capital.

Nelson Gonzalez

Gonzalez is seeking the Republican nomination for the 28th District State Senate seat, being vacated by John McKinney.

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