The current partisan climate in America is becoming more comfortably polarized in the 21st century, yet the problem is not that one partisan ideology is more damaging than the other, but rather there is not a healthy and stable balance between what both parties should be focusing on, the People. There are certain policies, regardless of partisan labels that should never be pursued in regards to the fiscal and social well being of the state. In any case, after one has determined the short-comings of any policy, it is deemed aboslutely necessary and crucial that those same forces offer an alternative solution to the problem rather than leaving it mutilated and left for dead.
Focusing exclusively on the Connecticut budget recently enacted by Governor Malloy we will find the essence of what any responsible and hard working state is not about. The strategy of the Malloy budget is similar to that of the oil company BP attempting to resolve the drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last Summer. As the leak become prevelant and a grave concern for the immediate health and safety of the ocean life as well as communities on the American coast line, BP sought to reconcile the issue by initiating a massive PR campaign and sending numerous officials and distinguished experts to the scene. The oil giant had to react under great pressure and time-constraint and therefore did not have the proper and adequate on-the-spot capacity to responsibly and quickly solve the crisis; mind you a plan for this was apparently already drawn up well before the leak. The chaos then continued as BP floated ideas such as clogging the leak with garbage until a new immediate solution could be found, then after some considerable time later they were able to cap the leak and put a close to the immediate threat to the environment.
Governor Malloy’s budget pretty much covers the same story. His administration along with his sprites and elves within the General Assembly have succeeded in not addressing the root causes of what created the state’s budget deficit and instead sought on-the-spot policies that simply clogged the holes within the budget with fiscal garbage until a more immediate, long-term and viable solution can be thought of. Therefore Connecticut is doomed and we simply have to hope that the good humor and grace of God will eventually fall upon our General Assembly and fix this problem; but wait, our benevolent Lord has already provided us with the solution to the problem, rational insight with the combination of good government.
One of the major concerns in the recent Quinnipiac Poll from March 8th, 2011 was that 66 percent of Connecticutters were disapproving and concerned about the tax increases the budget enacted, which total more than $2.6 billion over the next years and is the largest increase in state history. Therefore, the only constituency that Malloy kept happy was the organization that helped him squeak out a noble victory in Bridgeport, CT by 6,500 votes (and well after the 8PM deadline mind you). For Malloy, this is not good politics and even worse its bad economics not just for the well being and health of the state, but of the individual Connecticut citizens who dedicate themselves to their professions everday to keep the Connecticut economy moving but also strong and competitive.
Budget Concerns and Solutions
When committing to the welfare of the state of Connecticut it is important to identify, through the state’s Constitution, what the government’s purpose and core functions are. Therefore, after careful examination of the Connecticut Constitution the following can be determined as the core responsibilites of the Connecticut state government:
- To uphold the rule of law and a system of justice in accordance with the Connecticut State
- To ensure public safety,
- To provide for adequate public education,
- To preserve public property including Connecticut’s natural resources, as well as manmade resources (i.e. state roads and bridges), and,
- To promote public health and provide a safety net of social services adequate to maintain
public order and the wellbeing of Connecticut residents
As the Malloy adminsitration still sifts through the budget pages searching for other ways to find $400 million to close the budget gap, there is one solution that would, by modest estimates, ensure more than $220 million in savings for the state; Medicaid fraud recovery. Utilizing Connecticut’s already existing Medicaid Fraud Control Unit within the division of Criminal Justice the would be “lost money” which totals $22.5 billion nationally on an annual basis, would be properly collected by the state and put to much needed use to fill the budget deficit. How this would happen is creating policy initiatives within the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit that expand their reach and scope in order to be able to take on more cases at one time and catch more fraud activity simultaneously. This ensures that more of the criminal activity and fraud money is found, brought to justice and collected rightfully by the state, the current policy allows the fraud to continue, grow and go unnoticed and this is simply disruptive to a sound fiscal process.
Malloy seeking an additional $400 million to reconcile the deficit is ignoring the Medicaid Fraud Recovery reform policy which would create a total savings of $220 million, therefore $400m-$220m= $180 million in potential savings left to discover. Let’s keep searching….
What should be of the greatest priority for the Malloy government is consolidation policies that reduce redundancy and wasteful spending of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Governor Malloy has committed to a consolidation plan and would write-off anyone who claims his government is not pursuing such policies, however the seriousness of redundant and wasteful spending within the Connecticut bureacratic system is vast. Under Malloy’s consolidation plan only $9 million is being saved annually and therefore is limited in effectiveness and needs some serious tweeking. Alternative consolidation plans within the General Assembly, according to the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA), will result in the elimination of more than 27 state agencies, 383 government positions, and a savings of more than $18.9 million in FY 12 and $27.6
million in FY 13. This is real savings, with long-term scope that makes Connecticut more efficient and more fiscally sound simultaneously. The government should not be flooded with hundreds if not thousands of workers doing overlapping and at times similar work just because it creates a job; that is wrong, wasteful and needlessly spending the hard-earned taxpayer dollar that can be invested in the private economy to create productive jobs that contribute to the health of the overall economy.
Let’s take a moment to do the math Malloy is capable of, FY12 savings of $18.9m+$27.6m= $46.5 million in savings over two years from pratical consolidation reform. $180m-$46.5m= $133.5 million left to find…….
Organizations that are loaded with overbearing management are rarely ever successful or fiscally conducive to maintain for long periods of time. Many of the services that the state oversees and provides suffer from this managerial “sickness” and therefore the government should pursue a policy of “weeding” out those who bogg down government in more administrative costs. In December, the Bipartisan Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes reported that “based on other government organizations’ experiences and the private sector, it could be suggested that the State attempted to at least double its current 1:6 ratio of managers and supervisors to employees to 1:12.” Therefore it would be productive if Connecticut mustered up the courage to find ways to reduce this burdensome ratio and bring it to levels that would save the state time and money, and make it more efficient in the services it provides to the population. Eliminate a total of 1,380 managerial positions over two years throughout state government (1:10 in human services and 1:12 for other agencies), which would potentially result in savings of $112.0 million in FY 12 and $138.0 million in FY 13.
The journey to find an additional $400 million to close the budget gap would be solved, and yet further reform measures could be enacted to turn around the fiscal condition Connecticut currently suffers from, such as:
- Elimination of vacant government positions. Savings – $21.6 million/2 years
- Hard Hiring Freeze. Savings – $31.4 million/2 years
- Medicaid Section 1115i Waiver. Savings – $210 million/2 years
- New State Trooper Class. Savings – $2.2 million/ annually
The focus of Governor Malloy on the budget should be exaclty what he said he would try to do for the state of Connecticut, reduce fraud, consolidate government and close the budget deficit. Instead he has taken to the liking of Tony Hayward and decided to find ways to clogg the problem with garbage as the immediate environment suffers greatly in the process, at least the Governor does not have the audacity to publicly apologize for the mess he has helped create. Connecticut is one of the wealthiest, most economically active states in the Union and it did not get that way by sitting on the sidelines and hoping for problems to be solved by exacerbating them. The state has maintained its economic achievements through hard work, perseverence and most importantly, making tough choices when they mattered most and not when they were politically expedient. I commend the elected officials in the CT General Assembly who have not voted rank and file on this recent budget simply because the Governor said to. Let us hope that more people like them enter government in order to make it good again.
(These are the unrevised thoughts, to be potentially later adjusted of TheRoccoHeadedObserver)