State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-43)

“The problem is we have so much debt. We have big bills coming in. They’re coming in every two years for about the next decade and a half. A lot of money is due in the short term. We don’t even have time to grow the economy between tax hikes, and that’s all that’s left.”

That’s what CT Mirror reporter Keith Phaneuf said in a recent WNPR interview about the Connecticut state budget.

I serve on the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. That’s the panel that oversees taxation and government borrowing. Our committee gets an up-close, no-spin look at the economic trends and the oceans of red ink we are awash in.

We also listen closely to the opinions of economists, tax attorneys, accountants and sharp journalists who know the ins and outs of the state budget.

With Mr. Phaneuf’s warnings in mind, now consider these three, fast facts.

  1. Connecticut is the only state in the country that hasn’t returned to 100 percent employment since the Great Recession in 2008.
  2. An average of 500 people leave Connecticut each week on a net basis due to outmigration.
  3. The number of unemployed individuals in Connecticut is up by 2,100 over the last 12 months.

The facts aren’t pretty. They are unsettling. But they are the truth.

By directly confronting and analyzing the truth, we have an opportunity to change Connecticut’s current facts and create a brighter future. We are smack dab in the middle of a fiscal mess and we need to get out of it as quickly as we can if we want to leave behind a healthier state for future generations to enjoy.

Working with like-minded legislators to reach those solutions is my primary task at the State Capitol, and the work starts with an honest assessment of our budget numbers.

In the next few weeks, this column will focus on what we need to do to turn our state’s fortunes around in both the short- and long-terms.

That analysis will center on our state’s dangerous debt levels. Connecticut’s IOUs are a black cloud over all that takes place under the Gold Dome in Hartford. Out of every dollar you pay in taxes, about 13-cents goes toward Connecticut’s debt.

Think about that 13-cents for a second. That’s money that could go to help the disabled, children, seniors and hospitals. That’s money that could go toward tax relief and to fixing our roads, rails and bridges. Meanwhile, that debt percentage continues to grow. Anyone who has ever had a large credit card bill knows how that debt eats into your everyday life and crowds out other monthly expenses.

My reports will bring you the truth about what we are up against. The topics will range from economic growth to taxes to sections of the state budget you will think originated from Ripley’s Believe it or Not! There will be no sugarcoating.

I hope to bring you facts that you may not have seen in the news. I also hope I can rely on many of you to provide me with input and suggestions in this effort. Ask yourself, “What have I always wanted to know about the state budget?” Then contact me with your question.

We all love this state and want to put Connecticut back on a stable, predictable fiscal path. Working together, I believe we can do it. I am not going to give up in that ongoing fight.

After all, it’s about our money, our families and our futures.

Sen. Boucher represents Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, and Wilton She can be reached via email and at 800.842.1421. Or, visit her website.