Published February 11. 2013 4:00AM
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says his new state budget "keeps spending in check." In fact it raises spending by 10 percent over two years even as Connecticut's economy keeps sinking.
The governor claims credit for early repayment of state bonds undertaken during the recent economic crash to pay current expenses. But he also proposes to borrow $750 million more for current expenses.
The governor offers tax relief, repeal of the municipal property tax on cars and the sales tax on clothing under $50. But car tax revenue lost by municipalities will be recovered by raising taxes on residential and commercial property, paid by the same people who save on car taxes, and the electrical generation tax will be passed along to everybody - except that people will misunderstand it as the work of the electric companies rather than state government, which seems to be the objective.
The governor boasts about his assistance to business development - luxurious patronage for favored companies - but also proposes to cancel repeal of the surcharge on the corporation tax. And of course business is the biggest user of electricity and biggest ultimate payer of the generation tax.
Even more than low taxes, business is said to want a stable and predictable environment, but reinstating the corporation tax surcharge and the electrical generation tax will proclaim that Connecticut's word to business is no good.
The governor boasts of not raising taxes this year, but even if the corporation tax surcharge and the electricity generation tax are forgiven, his reducing state reimbursements to hospitals for charity care will cause them to increase prices for insured patients and thus cause medical insurers to raise prices in turn. Those price increases will be in effect a tax but here too responsibility will be misunderstood, which again seems to be the objective.
Malloy's spending increases are not all irresponsible. Some will move the horribly underfunded state employee pension system toward solvency, a great neglect by his predecessors. But the spending increases also cover $125 million in raises for state employees, whose only justification is political.
Other increases will cover the governor's grand initiatives, particularly with education, where he is committed to the proposition that the long decline in education in Connecticut has been caused by a lack of spending, even though for 40 years there has been an explosion of education spending and it has correlated with decline.
No matter how close the governor gets to the underlying problem he can't acknowledge it. Just hours before presenting his budget the governor announced creation of the state Office of Early Childhood to coordinate government services to young children - that is, children essentially without parents, children for whom remediation at public expense is often a lifelong experience, from school to social workers to juvenile court to mental institution to adult court and prison. The necessity of parents - particularly fathers - is yet to be given a thought in public policy in Connecticut, though the child neglect and abuse resulting from their absence are the cause of most of the state's problems, social and financial.
When a water pipe breaks the public works department usually has the sense to repair the pipe and stop the flooding. But when family collapse and social disintegration flood society, government just buys more buckets. About 40 percent of children in Connecticut are born into homes without fathers. What will Connecticut be like when the percentage reaches 60 or 70? It will be like the worst sections of Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven, where the fatherless rate is already at 90 percent.
As the state heads that way the political economy of the governor's new budget seems to be a transfer of wealth from working people and business to public employees and the anti-social. The governor calls this profound change, but it is only more of the deadly same.