Little fanfare over state budget debate
With almost all news being drowned out by Sunday’s slaying of international terror suspect Osama bin Laden, it would not be surprising if many people missed Tuesday’s state news, that the Connecticut Senate passed a two-year, $40.1 billion budget, in a deal reached between legislative leaders and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.It was an opportune week to push the economic passage through, as debate regarding the subject paled in comparison to the staggering details of the mission performed by U.S. Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Suffice it to say there was much less fanfare over the state budget than in previous years.Still, there are reasons to be worried about Connecticut’s economic future, in which residents, businesses, state organizations and nonprofits have been repeatedly urged to accept shared sacrifice.The problem with this concept lies in the the fairness of its implementation. Numerous legislators have pointed out that the budget will be good for big business in Connecticut, with endorsements coming from the CEOs of major corporations, but little has been said about how the budget will affect daily life for ordinary citizens, who will see taxes increased and services reduced.For Winsted and towns throughout Litchfield County, where population growth has been minimal, so will be the increases in funding. As school systems and municipalities struggle to balance their books, affluent towns like Greenwich will receive significant increases in state aid. Colleges and universities will see reductions in funding, and state employees will give back a significant chunk of the benefits packages promised to them when they were hired.In an age in which corporations have been outed across the nation for not paying any taxes, and in a state where corporate tax returns are allowed to be kept secret, it is astounding that Connecticut continues to coddle its most fortunate citizens while telling everyone else that shared sacrifice is a virtue.Following passage of the budget and the governor’s signature, Connecticut residents should focus their efforts on tracking how much of the sacrifice is truly being shared by affluent residents, communities and corporations, and how much is being asked of the middle class and the poor. The goal of future legislation should be to correct the obvious inequities.