CT v. MA Taxes

Connecticut's Office of Legislative Research recently did a comparison of tax rates in Connecticut and Massachusetts. General Electric's recent decision to move its headquarters from Fairfield to Boston serves as the backdrop for the survey which finds rates are slightly lower in Massachusetts.

In the aftermath of the GE move many have pointed out that comparing tax rates in New York and New England states is a short-sighted approach, because businesses compete on an international basis in today's economy.

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Mixed Signals

A poll released last week by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. and InformCT includes mixed messages about the public view of the Connecticut economy. While the poll suggests more people are feeling the economic climate is improving, they also feel their own financial picture is not improving in any significant way.

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Union Givebacks

According to the CT Mirror, the leaders of Connecticut state employee unions are expecting and bracing for another attempt to extract concessions from state employees.

Governor Malloy has certainly signaled a need to reduce the state workforce, he has hinted at layoffs and Monday he withdrew scheduled raises for non-union state managers. The Mirror article and the state of the Connecticut budget suggest the possibility of a coming standoff involving state employee unions.

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Griebel: Discipline, Sustainability the Keys

Writing in the Hartford Business Journal, Oz Griebel of the MetroHartford Alliance makes the case for fiscal sustainability in state government and more active private sector involvement in state affairs.

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Budget Problems Big Enough

In a powerful editorial published this week in the Hartford Business Journal, the paper calls on lawmakers to concentrate their efforts during the current session on solving the state's fiscal challenges. Now is not the time to expand the size and scope of government, according to the HBJ editorial page. There are more pressing problems that demand immediate attention.

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Not Time for Blame

The Day of New London argues now is not the time to play the blame game when it comes to the state budget.

The bottom line is the current budget crisis offers leaders the opportunity to make fundamental changes that can turn the state's economic prospects around for everyone. Solutions are available if everyone is willing to work together and think beyond standard political positions.

CT21 is ready to help.

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Politics Aside

Last week's new report on the size of the projected state budget deficit brought an immediate increase in the level of political rhetoric related to the state budget.

In times of crisis it is more important that ever for all sides to work together. CT21 stands ready to work with policy-makers by offering non-partisan, data driven budget options that can put Connecticut on the right track. View our menu of proposals under CT21 in Depth.

 

Not Going to Happen!

Speaking with reporters Friday, Governor Malloy warned lawmakers that Connecticut's revenue picture is declining so dramatically that there is no hope a sudden surge in April tax returns will bring the state budget back into balance. He urged anyone counting on that strategy to think again.

Malloy hinted that reductions in the size of the state workforce are necessary and he pledged again to balance the budget this year without new tax increases.

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Overtime Source of Savings

The New Haven Register editorial board joined many Connecticut opinion leaders this week in calling for a major reduction in the use of overtime by state employees.

CT21 has long argued in favor of using private contractors to provide certain public services, if those services can be delivered without a reduction in quality for taxpayers. Such an approach would undoubtedly lead to savings in state overtime accounts.

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New Opportunity

The legislature's Office of Fiscal Analysis produced new figures on the state's projected budget deficit Thursday afternoon and the news was greeted with shock from lawmakers. One day after Governor Malloy warned of a coming "crash," OFA said this year's deficit now totals $266 million and the budget for the next two years has a built in shortfall of more than $2 billion.

The growing swell of red ink means the governor and lawmakers have a new opportunity to lead by adopting a new approach to budgeting based on what the state can afford and what its taxpayers need, rather than one based on the political popularity of existing spending programs.

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"Crash Coming"

Governor Malloy is using more dramatic rhetoric each passing day as he tries to make the case for fundamental change in Connecticut's budget process.

In an editorial board meeting with Hearst Newspapers Wednesday, Malloy said he sees little political will among legislative Democrats or Republicans to make the tough choices. He warned there is a "crash coming" unless both sides can agree to reduce state spending by $500 million.

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Breaking Point?!

As Governor Malloy attempts to sell his budget proposals in statewide town meetings, he is running into some expected resistance from those who are not convinced Connecticut needs to under-take fundamental change.

But as Malloy's hard sell continues he is becoming even more frank, telling one group that Connecticut may be "at a breaking point" where the are no painless options left to consider.

Malloy Makes His Case - Hartford Courant

Search for Fiscal Balance - CT Mirror

CT21 Shares Findings

Monday, CT21, the Connecticut Economic Resource Council, Inc., and others were asked to appear before the Medical Assistance Oversight Council to share their most recent findings on Connecticut's Long Term Support Services policies.

CT21 and CERC released the results of an updated report last week showing that if the state maintains its current policy to reduce the use of institutionalization in long term care cases, Connecticut could save more than $650 million over the next ten years.

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Searching for Reforms

Connecticut lawmakers from both political parties continue their search for reforms that can make existing programs more effective and reduce costs.

This week Senator Len Fasano(R), the Senate Minority Leader, discussed a series of social service reforms designed to reduce urban poverty. And the good news is; they were not immediately dismissed by Democrats. Another sign both sides are running out of options when it comes to delaying hard but necessary choices.

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Settle Early

There is no reason for the governor and the state legislature to wait until the last day of this year's session to come to an agreement on budget adjustments.

The challenges are there for everyone to see and so are many of the solutions. Governor Malloy has correctly called for an early agreement to get the state moving in the right direction as quickly as possible.

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Deficit Brings Added Pressure

Late Friday the Office of Policy and Management reported an increase in the projected Connecticut budget deficit.

OPM Secretary Ben Barnes says the red ink now totals $19 million. Although budget deficits are generally seen as bad news, in the current environment, the rising number may actually put additional pressure on the legislature and the governor to examine the budget for savings opportunities they might not normally consider.

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Urging Legislature to Focus

Private sector advocates are asking the legislature to stay focused this session on balancing the state budget in a sustainable way. This means avoiding the temptation to meddle in the business sector by expanding the scope of state government.

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The Time Is Now

Two leading Democratic lawmakers say the legislature is more likely to pay attention this year to recommendations made by CT21 in its series of reports on reducing costs and improving efficiencies in state government.

Appearing at a news conference with CT21, state Representatives Mary Mushinsky and Jonathan Steinberg said lawmakers must look at all suggestions seriously because of the nature of Connecticut's finances.

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CT21 Long Term Care Study Considered

Several lawmakers expressed strong support this week for continuing current state policy designed to remove more long term care patients from institutional settings.

A report released Wednesday by CT21 and the Connecticut Economic Research Center, Inc. demonstrates the state has already saved hundreds of millions of dollars, since the reforms were first written into statute, and may save as much as $650 million more by 2025.

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Full Report...

Commissioner Cuts?

Governor Malloy's proposal to give more budget making decision power to his appointed commissioners is getting mixed reviews in the legislature where the budget line item is seen as political power.

Some are attempting to figure out how block granting state agencies would work. The CT Mirror tried to analyze where commissioners might cut, if given the power, by reviewing budget planning documents submitted from the various agencies to the Office of Policy and Management last year.

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Transportation Spending

CT 21 has long advocated for increased funding for and modernization of Connecticut's transportation system.

As Governor Malloy fights to expand the state's investment and lock transportation funding in a special account protected from legislative raids, there is news the state will see modest increases in federal funding for transportation over the next several years. The level of federal funding available however will not rise to the level necessary to lead to transformative change.

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No Tax Increases

Several private sector groups continue to advocate in support of Governor Malloy's budget proposal which includes no new tax increases.

Of the many principles included in the governor's current proposal, the goal of avoiding tax increases this fiscal year is among the most important. Wednesday, Connecticut Business and Industry Association, economist Peter Gioia testified before the Appropriations Committee.

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CT 21, CERC Show Long Term Savings

CT 21 and the Connecticut Economic Resource Council, Inc. have produced a report showing more than $650 million in savings over the next ten years if state government continues current reforms in the area of long term support services.

Current state policy aims to have 75% of long term care patients in non-institutional settings by 2025. The new study shows pursuing that path has already saved the state as much as $200 million.

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Confronting Crisis

Perhaps not since 1991 has a Connecticut governor gone on the road to make such an unpopular argument.

Governor Malloy finds himself arguing the facts with Connecticut residents and in some cases, special interests, as he continues his campaign on behalf of his latest budget proposal. Meanwhile, there is evidence Malloy may need the help of members of the public who understand it is time to make difficult choices in aid of improving the Connecticut economy. Some legislators are beginning to sound reluctant about stepping up to the challenge.

Malloy on Unfamiliar Ground - CT Mirror

Leaders Rehash Last Debate - CT News Junkie