State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-43)

This op-ed is the second in a series written by Sen. Toni Boucher.

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“With weak tax collections likely to carry over into fiscal 2017, (Connecticut) has limited flexibility to maintain a balanced budget.”

So reads the June 27 report from Moody’s Credit Outlook.

And there’s more.

“In calendar 2015, (Connecticut’s) job count grew by 0.7-percent, less than half the nation’s pace, and state job growth continued to lag the nation through May 2016.”

It’s blunt talk. Moody’s Credit Outlook shines a bright light on our state’s underperformance. And it debunks the notion that the stock market is the cause of Connecticut’s budget problems. Our main problem is our anemic job growth brought about by our state’s anti-growth policies.

A report like this is exactly what we need to focus on if we are to emerge from what Gov. Malloy’s budget chief once dubbed Connecticut’s “permanent fiscal crisis.” That so-called “permanent fiscal crisis” is a manufactured myth. The shortsighted policies embedded in each state budget over the past five years are damaging the job market and decimating our reserves.

Consider the past week’s news:

  • The governor is draining our state’s emergency reserves, commonly known as the “Rainy Day Fund,” leaving it with $83 million, as opposed to the $2 billion necessary to maintain a good credit rating.
  • The possibility of a Connecticut Mileage Tax – a new and outrageous tax on every single mile you drive – was featured in a national Washington Post article.
  • 1300 white-collar MetLife jobs have moved from Bloomfield, CT to North Carolina over the past three years.
  • The University of Connecticut callously issued large raises and bonuses to its top brass. The university did so at a time when tuition at UConn is being hiked 31-percent over four years and at a time when funding for our neediest residents is being slashed. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy defended the raises.

Compare that to the past year’s news:

  • Two credit rating agencies downgraded Connecticut in the same week.
  • Two other credit agencies gave the state negative outlooks.
  • Connecticut’s bonding debt grew by 15-percent. Our bonded indebtedness has grown by more than $3.5 billion in four years.
  • 100-percent% of what is dedicated to pensions only funds current state employee retirees, with none of it going into funding existing state employees.

Those are the facts involving your tax dollars. Luckily, I work with many smart, pro-growth Republican legislators who study and grasp the economic trends. These individuals have achieved success in the private sector. They know how to balance a budget and how to stabilize long-term finances. They know the value of predictability, which is exactly what we don’t have in Connecticut at present.

Sen. Scott Frantz, who represents Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford, is a perfect example. Sen. Frantz has no qualms about telling the truth about our state’s challenges. As he warned during this year’s budget debate, “Keep your eye on Puerto Rico. It is a harbinger of what will happen to states.” Sen. Frantz ‘gets it.’ The irresponsible, anti-business policies that have been passed under one-party rule at the State Capitol over the past five years have failed.

I believe we can get out of this mess and reverse the trends. It will take discipline, and it will require new decision-makers at the State Capitol.

In the meantime, I’ll keep giving these facts to you straight. You, the taxpayers who diligently read my commentaries, also “get it.” I will continue to rely on the sharp readers of this column to send me real life anecdotes as we fight for our state’s future. I can be reached via email and at 800.842.1421.

Sen. Boucher represents Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, and Wilton.