Rob’s Monthly Column Feb 2014

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Feb 23, 2014 No Comments ›› admin

On February 7th, Governor Dannel Malloy delivered his budget address to a joint session of the state House and Senate to kick off the 2014 legislative session.  His speech was notable on several levels and in many ways has set the stage for the issues that will rise to the top during the legislative session and, more significantly, the November elections.

He opened by describing his belief in the bright future of our state – a belief I share.  He lost me quickly, however, when he opined that the clouds have parted, the sun is now shining, and the bright future has arrived.  He took credit for a rebounding economy which is a figment of his imagination, while failing to recognize the role of his policies and his legislative allies in creating many of our most serious problems.

I prefer not to be partisan and look for ways to work together to create a brighter future for our state.  Still, I feel that an accurate assessment of the policies of our government and the proposals of our leaders is a critical part of my job as your State Representative.

It’s no secret that I have vast differences with Governor Malloy, but they are a result of his poor stewardship of our state government and his lack of concern for the state’s taxpayers, not his party affiliation.

In his State of the State address, Governor Malloy claimed to have added more than 40,000 new private sector jobs over the past three years.  Yet, according to Malloy’s own State Department of Labor statistics, there are 22,000 fewer people working in Connecticut than the day Governor Malloy took office.

He also points to the decline in unemployment numbers in the state, which have gone from 9.4 percent in 2010 to 7.4 percent today.  That sounds encouraging but sadly doesn’t tell the whole story.  According to the nonpartisan Connecticut Center of Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, 65,000 working-age adults have stopped looking for work, and are not included in the survey.  If they were, the unemployment rate would be a whopping10.7 percent.  Unless Governor Malloy thinks it is a victory on the jobs front for 65,000 people to give up on employment, this is an intentional and alarming deception.

To hear the governor talk, you would believe that the state’s troubles are over.  He claims to have taken a $3.6 billion deficit into a $500 million surplus.  However, after increasing borrowing just to keep the lights on in government and make payroll obligations–an unprecedented act–Connecticut’s bonded indebtedness will be the highest it has ever been, having grown by a billion dollars on this governor’s watch.  What’s more, the state is facing billion dollar deficits after this budget cycle and, conveniently, after the November elections.

I can give Governor Malloy credit in some areas but feel like much of what I like about his plan are things he is doing as half measures only and more for the sake of politics than common-sense governance.

He stated in his address that he would like to reduce our long-term debt by making an extra $100 million payment toward state pension obligations.  That is admirable, but we must remember that just last year, Governor Malloy and the Democratic legislative majority delayed debt payments in the amount of $196 million each year over two years.

He also spoke briefly about easing the tax burden on residents, saying it was time to eliminate the new sales tax on non-prescription drugs.  That’s certainly appreciated, but it should be noted that he was behind the tax in the first place.

The governor has also received a lot of attention for proposing a $55 rebate to taxpayers.  Putting aside the absurdity of issuing a rebate when we have such massive debt, I am always in favor of returning money to taxpayers.  However, let’s keep in mind that Governor Malloy pushed through the largest tax increase in Connecticut’s history.

Now that it’s election time, he is attempting to backtrack from his tax and spend big-government policies, at least when it comes to his political rhetoric.  As I told the press immediately after his State of the State speech, “You can always tell when it’s an election year.”

We deserve better.  We need leadership in our state that speaks the truth and genuinely has the best interest of all citizens as the ultimate goal.  I am hopeful that we will have better choices on the ballot in November.

You can count on me to continue my efforts to bring common sense to Hartford, to remind my colleagues that there are real people back home in our districts who need to pay their bills, businesses that need to make payroll, and that when government becomes a burden and gets in the way of these goals, we need to change direction.

I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed the first couple of months of 2014 and feel like it’s going to be a good year on many levels.  I have had the opportunity to meet with many constituents and to recognize some truly special people who happen to be our neighbors. Senator Markley and I held Town Hall Forums in Wolcott and Southington, and we were very pleased and gratified with the response we received.  It’s an honor to represent such great communities and fine people.

Congratulations to Victoria Damore on winning the Oratorical Contest held by the American Legion Post 165 earlier this year.  I understand she went on to place third in the District 2 despite stiff competition from upper classmen. Congratulations also to Shebeen Brewing Co. on their grand opening.  I have to say that was one of my favorite events attended ever.

Next month, I plan to write about my bill proposals for 2014, so please stay tuned for that.