Most elected officials whether at the local, state or federal level enjoy an initial honeymoon period and have the advantageous position of pursuing policy initiatives with relative ease. Governor Dannel Malloy of the state of Connecticut appears, along with many of the citizens he governs, not able to afford a honeymoon this year, to any destination. In a Quinnipiac University poll released March 8th, 2011 Connecticut voters had already determined that they disapproved, 40-35 percent, of the job he is doing in Hartford.
The major area of contention so far has been revolving around the creation of Connecticut’s biennial budget. The independent Quinnipiac study has outlined that 55-39 percent of those polled are optimistic about the next four years under Governor Malloy, yet the same amount of those optimistic voters, 51-32 percent, believe that Malloy and his administration is handling quite poorly the budget process, and gave two thumbs down to what the budget contains overall. Figure 1 demonstrates the current sentiments with a poll of 77-22 percent of the Connecticut electorate believing in the seriousness of the state’s budget:
FIGURE 1 Tot Rep Dem Ind Men Wom Union HsHlds
Very serious 77% 82% 73% 76% 77% 76% 78%
Smwht serious 22 18 24 23 21 22 20
Not too serious 1 – 3 – 1 1 1
Not at all serious – – – – – – –
DK/NA – – – – – – 1
Only seconds from the starting line and Governor Malloy has appeared to have badly strained a muscle. The citizenry of Connecticut is clearly not pleased with the administration’s budget that will determine the fiscal nature and overall health of the state for the next two years; what’s more is that as states across New England and the rest of the coutnry attempt to recover from this economic crisis, a sound and fiscally responsible budget is what will make the necessary difference as to which states recover faster and emerge stronger.
Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD. stated, “Connecticut voters are in a grumpy mood. Nearly 70 percent are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the state and no elected official in this survey has an approval rating above 50 percent,”
Among the major grievances of the Connecticut electorate that have caused Governor Malloy to be unable to find realtive relaxation in the first few days with his marriage to Hartford are;
- Tax increases indentified as too high,
- Unionized Labor “got the better end of the stick”,
- Spending cuts were too little, and,
- Eliminating existing tax credits economically strain individuals further.
What has been noticeable whether in Washington D.C. or in the local governments of all the 50 states is the debate surrounding whether increasing or lowering taxes is the right solution to maintaining a healthy and working economy. The state’s population has been responsible and relatively considerable in addressing their grievances regarding the tax hikes within the state’s newly formualted budget. For example, Connecticut voters support, 72-26 percent, tax increases on cigarettes and, 68-30 percent, increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages, yet the major area of contention of the newly enacted taxes is regarding state sales tax, income tax and taxes on daily consumer goods such as gasoline.
We cannot as a state believe it to be economically prudent to ignore that the state does not have a revenue problem, but rather suffers from a spending problem. We were not put in this current economic situation because the good, decent and hard working citizens of Connecticut did not pay their taxes on time, or that companies did not pay their fair share to the state; but rather it was the cause of a sense of entitlement, that our government may spend however much they deem fit and hope more money will be there later, even if it means raising taxes. This is not how the workers of Connecticut treat their finances and neither should their elected officials in the General Assembly be committed to anything of the contrary. How can the General Assembly discuss raising taxes without any significant spending reductions, especially when the goal is to close a budget deficit?
All in all, Governor Malloy has mised out on his ability to have a political honeymoon. Instead of finding long-term and fiscally responsible policies for the state of Connecticut so that all may prosper without penalty, something that any working man or woman should have the right of access to, our Governor has appeased those who won him his seat in office by 6,500 votes. The governor has bought peace with his union allies, but at a high cost to Connecticut residents and businesses who will be hit with $2.6 billion in increased taxes in the next two years, the highest increase ever in state history. Let Connecticut hope that the next four years with our governor will not continue and eventually end in the same disappointing and economically destructive manner in which it has begun.
(These are the unrevised thoughts, to be potentially later adjusted of TheRoccoHeadedObserver)