Ryan & Fisher: Connecticut’s own fiscal cliff

Every other week, John J. Ryan, a former Republican state representative, and Hersam Acorn editor Joshua Fisher and sometimes Ridgefielder, share their back-and-forth about news going on around the state, among other items of interest.  

Fisher: While Washington politicians are wrangling over the fiscal cliff, it seems likely that there will be yet another (so-called) special session in Hartford on the burgeoning state deficit — Connecticut’s own version of a fiscal woes. Is it worrisome that talking about a state deficit — just like the General Assembly holding a “special session” — has become a regular holiday season item in this column for years?

Ryan: Why would anyone worry? Didn’t you see the important news coming out of Hartford this week: Localmusicianssonglikelytobecomestatewaltz (NewBritainHerald.com, Nov. 15).

Fisher: It’s always comforting to know that Hartford is tackling the pressing issues in these times of financial peril. Does Connecticut have an official state scapegoat yet? The state government’s serious revenue and economic woes continue to be of growing concern. If Hartford isn’t going to focus on it, we should.

Ryan: We could fill an entire page of this fine publication with bad news, but to lead off see: ConnecticutRanksLastAmong 50 StatesInCreditAnalysis,” (CourantBlogs.com/ct-insurance, Nov. 14). It features this frightening quote: Connecticut “is among the worst in job creation, tax revenue growth, and has not yet seen a recovery in home prices. It has very high debt and retirement obligations, little budget flexibility and no rainy day fund balance.”

Fisher: That’s heartwarming. So, you’re telling us that the record-breaking Gov. Malloy tax increases and give-millions-away, pick-and-choose-economic-development plan isn’t reaping the returns the governor had told us it would? Just like so many fiscal analysts said. But at least Mr. Malloy kept all those state unions safe so that the taxpayers of Connecticut could pick up the slack.

One of the best things I read this week was Chris Powell’s Malloysexplanationofshortfallfallshort (NCAdvertiser.com, Nov. 26).

Ryan: If you did not like that news, this item won’t make you any happier: Connecticuteconomystillwobbly (CTPost.com, Nov. 20) and StateFacing $365 MillionBudgetDeficit, PoorCreditQuality (Courant.com, Nov. 14).

And from the state Department of Labor website, ctdol.state.ct.us, (posted Nov. 19) you can peruse the charts and other data indicating that Connecticutsunemploymentrateroseto 9% — one of the highest. But have no fear taxpayers, because: Malloy: Ivegotplantodealwithdeficit (StamfordAdvocate.com, Nov. 20).

Fisher: Malloy saying he has a fiscal plan is becoming one of the scariest phrases in Connecticut. Wasn’t Mr. Malloy’s last budget supposed to get Connecticut out of this fiscal hole? Surely, John, things have to be improving and the state deficit shrinking.

Ryan: Nope. I am certain the deficit numbers will continue to grow — probably to a half billion dollars or more or more.

But as we always insist: Do not take our word for it. Look it up yourself (that’s one of the reasons we provide links to all the news mentioned in these columns). Be an informed taxpayer.

Editor: So what you’re saying is if you are going to be overtaxed, you should know why Connecticut’s leaders are encouraging you to look for a more tax-friendly place to live.

And whether or not there is a December special legislative session, the state’s fiscal woes will be the all-encompassing topic when the next (regular) session convenes on Jan. 9, 2013. Will there ever be any interesting political news that might suggest some potential for change in the one-party control that is currently dragging down the Constitution State?

Ryan: You obviously are thinking of this item from Breitbart.com: HartfordCourant: OnePartyRuleUnhealthy,’ OnlyEndorsedDemocrats,” and this “under-the-radar race” at the state capitol: LatinoGOPStateSenatorHowHeWonAnElection (CTLatinoNews.com) is thought-provoking. As you’ve likely been hearing, several national political commentators have opined that the best growth area for the Republican Party should be Latino voters.

Fisher: Connecticut Republicans, adopting a sensible methodology for attracting new voters, and abandoning the tactic of running strident, selffundedmillionaireswithzeroelectiveexperience? But then state Republicans might have to actually govern rather than just complain.

Next you will tell us that there is hope for college athletics …

Ryan: Thank you for the segue. You obviously saw this entry in the latest edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education: NotreDameScoreaFirst: No. 1 inFootballandinGraduatingItsPlayers (Chronicle.com, Nov. 20). There is always hope that somewhere, someone is trying to do it right.

Fisher: I am sure we’ll have plenty more time to talk about your alma mater before the national championship game, which I believe is now being held around Valentine’s Day. How about a law requiring no college bowl games after Jan. 1 — just like the good old days.

Since Hartford is focusing more time on waltzes than fiscal solutions, maybe the General Assembly can take that up.

And to update an item from our lastcolumn about Linda McMahon’s campaign not paying the minorities it hired to tell voters to vote for her and Obama, some have reported they finally got checks— but cashing them has been another challenge. See: LindaMcMahoncampaignworker: Igotacondomandabadcheck (WashingtonPost.com, Nov. 20).

Until next week, when we publish our list for Santa (for which we’re taking suggestions at [email protected] and [email protected]).

John J. Ryan is of counsel to the Darien law firm Tibbetts, Keating & Butler, and served 14 years as Darien and Rowayton’s state representative. Joshua Fisher  has been an editor with Hersam Acorn Newspapers since 2003.


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