New Canaan RTC Summary Statement on Economic Growth & Responsible Government in CT
The New Canaan RTC believes that Connecticut (“CT”) can achieve fiscal stability, create a business-friendly environment, and support sound and effective citizen support programs. Achieving these ends will require honest assessment, discipline, creativity, and fairness for all constituents, including taxpayers, beneficiaries, state workers, and social welfare advocates.
Democrats have eviscerated the historical economic strengths that Connecticut once possessed. They have mortgaged the State’s future to buy special interest votes and garner circular funding back into their campaigns. The unvarnished facts are that CT ranks at or near the very bottom in growth and fiscal stability rankings.
Outward migration from CT has been on the rise and will accelerate if fiscal problems are not addressed. The massive obligations that the State has incurred will place an additional punishing burden on those who remain. Connecticut should be a place where retirees, students, immigrants, professionals, the wealthy, the middle class, and the poor can live, be educated, earn private sector jobs, build careers, enhance their lives and remain close to family. In today’s mobile America (a trend that has been accelerated by COVID-19’s shelter-in-place and work-from-home mandates), those experiences should and must be made available in CT for the state to survive.
All citizens benefit when a government is fiscally sound, operates efficiently, and provides needed services at a reasonable cost; furthermore, fiscal instability and government inefficiency threatens the common good.
Please read on to consider the New Canaan RTC’s view of our current challenges and some ideas for creating a “Connecticut that Works for All.”
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► Taxpayers are not under-taxed and the “taxpayer well” is not bottomless;
► Suburban towns are not the cause of the crisis in Connecticut cities;
► Democrat mismanagement and outdated, ineffective policies have devastated CT cities;
► Using CT suburban towns as a piggy bank to dump more resources in the incompetent hands of Hartford politicians will lead to the destruction of CT’s quality of life;
► Democrats have excessively favored state employees at the expense of social beneficiaries, taxpayers, and businesses. State workers must contribute to solving the State’s fiscal problems;
► Businesses are an asset to be cultivated and grown, not over-taxed and over-regulated;
► Social programs and government operations must be better run and held accountable for measurable objectives and outcomes. Social programs should be a trampoline, not a trap;
► A shrinking tax base and an outflow of residents cannot support rapidly growing, unfunded obligations— no matter who is running the state government;
► Politicians of both parties who have contributed to these mounting problems must be held accountable;
► Democrat policies have led to growing tax burdens, reduced home values, and worker out-migration. They denied CT’s citizens the benefits of the robust economy that other states experienced pre-COVID with CT’s recovery lagging the rest of the country across almost all metrics; and
► With robust growth, reduced regulation, balanced policies, and discipline, CT can return to financial strength.
Democrats Have Created the Mess and Now Offer Excuses & Ineffective Solutions. They…
► Blame taxpayers and suburban towns;
► Continue to add to the suburban tax burden:
- Starting July 1, 2020, the State real estate conveyance tax was dramatically increased from 1.25% to 2.25%
on personal residence values above $2.5 million;
- Initiate a state-wide property tax;
► Fail to act to stop the huge projected deficits. For example, in the midst of the pandemic and a suffering private sector, the Democrats allowed $132,000,000 of state employee wage increases to go into effect in July 2020;
► Keep an AFSCME (a municipal employee union) as Speaker of the CT House who is a key driver of the unaffordable largess granted to state and municipal workers;
► Focus legislative efforts on radical social agendas, rather than the hard work of resolving economic issues, and continue the policies that have destroyed CT’s cities;
► Enable legislators and elected officials to eat at the same pension trough as hired state workers;
► Have no accountability for the effectiveness of funded programs;
► Hope for a federal bailout; and
► Failing that…Raise, and Raise, and Raise Taxes!
Principles, Policies & Rationale
► Despite high levels of personal income taxes and incurred debt, CT can’t support its infrastructure and can’t fund its commitments.
► CT does not have a revenue problem. CT does not have selfish taxpayers and homeowners. CT has a government problem.
Be honest about the fiscal challenges facing the State
► Stretching out pension funding is a budgetary game that exposes residents to greater future obligations.
► In a low interest rate environment, using unrealistic higher interest rates to determine future pension liabilities results in a gross underestimate of the actual future costs of these benefits.
► Per Bank of America: Each additional $1 billion in plan contributions takes away about $2.5 billion from state and local government investment.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
Make robust economic growth the #1 legislative priority.
Attract and retain businesses.
► Build a culture that values work. Work and purpose are intimately connected. A culture that values income honestly earned across the economic spectrum is not only more financially stable, but happier and more fulfilled.
► Reduce regulations and bureaucratic red tape.
► Recognize that manufacturing jobs train those who start their own businesses.
► Use creativity to expand the benefits of Opportunity Zones.
► Establish “Trade and Tech” programs using private enterprises.
► Stop trying for State control of local schools through forced ”regionalization.” Businesses will not move to CT as their employees demand quality schools.
Attract and Retain Workers
► Build a flexible young-worker training programs that offer both manual trades and tech-oriented skills.
► Encourage college grads to stay in CT with a partial income tax rebate program to help fund home purchases within five years of graduation.
Good Government for the 21st Century: Effective and Efficient
► Government programs must be provided at reasonable costs.
► Demand that every state program have defined measurable metrics and objectives for costs, program structure and beneficiary outcomes.
► Require sponsoring legislators to take responsibility for monitoring and reporting on outcomes and costs every six months.
► Programs that don’t meet metrics to be retired. Re-examine state systems for efficiency and effectiveness through increased use of technology.
► Provide the public with transparent accounting to make clear the success or failure of government programs.
► CT can “Work for All”: Different constituents have common interests. Workers and employers have common interests. Taxpayers and state employees have common interests. Businesses and educators have common interests.
► CT’s financial services, manufacturing, and public infrastructure sectors can fuel each other; lower payroll taxes, accelerated depreciation on capital spending, and “game changing” infrastructure projects can bring capital and labor to the table together.
No “Sacred Cows” when it comes to addressing the pension issue
► Take an aggressive approach to pursuing all avenues to renegotiate the ruinous and potentially illegal (because they made the State insolvent) agreements with the State Employee unions.
► Stop the cycle of ever-increasing benefits and above-market compensation agreements with State workers.
► Effect dramatic changes in benefits afforded new hires.
► Hold employees accountable for performance.
► Cut the state workforce by 15% in the next 6 years.
► One person hired for every two retirees. One person hired for every two departures.
► Annual pensions should be capped at $100,000. In 2017 more than 1,400 retirees received payments above $100,000. One retiree receives more that $300,000 annually.
► Retiree benefits should be taxed by Connecticut, even if the retiree lives in another state.
No retirement benefits for elected state officials
► Elected offices should not be lifetime jobs. Install term limits.
► CT Senate and House seats are part-time jobs by design.
► Put legislators on the same side as taxpayers, not on the same side as state workers when it comes to the excessive retiree benefits that have become the hallmark of Democrat policy.
Position CT to capitalize on re-shoring trends post-COVID-19
► Bringing jobs back to American soil is both good for the economy and national security— CT should be part of it!
► COVID-19 has revealed the foolishness of outsourcing the American supply chain. Re-shoring of critical industries will begin at pace; industrial manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and aerospace and defense should be of particular interest to CT lawmakers.
► CT was once the largest manufacturing state in the U.S. Republican and Democratic leaders should make sure we are positioned for this enormous shift in geopolitics— the land-use requirements and infrastructure already exist and can.