Now that the elections are over, the work in Hartford will begin anew – or more accurately, right where we left off.
Financially, Connecticut is still heading in the wrong direction. Our unemployment numbers are back up to 9 percent, and our state revenues continue to spiral downwards. As of last week – i.e., a mere five months into the fiscal year -- Connecticut’s deficit had grown to $365 Million, and is now expected to balloon to $1.2 Billion next year. Despite the largest tax increase in state history, and your government collecting more money than ever, we still can’t pay our bills because your government is spending more money than ever.
Job One this session will be to put the state’s finances in balance without the borrowing and increased taxation that “balanced” the budget the last time. We need to (i) cut government spending now, (ii) rescind wasteful programs that create more headlines than jobs, and (iii) try to revisit measures like the four year, no layoff state employee union deal pushed through in 2011.
In a similar connection, transparency in the budgeting process must also be heightened. Last session the majority and Governor pushed through a bill (over my and others’ opposition) to postpone the release of the state’s consensus revenue report from mid October to mid November – i.e., just after Election Day. Notably, a week before this past election, the Governor’s Office estimated the deficit at about $60 Million. A week after the election, however, we learned that our deficit is actually six times that amount ($365M) and growing.
As a result, the General Assembly will likely be called into an emergency session next month to pass immediate deficit mitigation measures. Again, I will insist that any fix focuses on the spending side of the ledger.
Away from the budget and economy, we can expect some other notable issues to come up in 2013. We will continue to advance the education reform effort started last year by building on those positive first steps. We will also examine our recent storm response, and discuss ways to slow the growing cost of energy. A frank analysis of the Governor’s early release program for violent criminals is also in order.
I look forward to working with all of my legislative colleagues to create sound public policy and realistic solutions, and look forward to hearing from my constituents, friends and neighbors on any/all of these issues. As always, please feel free to contact my office by calling 800-842-1423 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
John T. Shaban
State Representative – 135th Assembly District
(Easton, Redding, Weston)