Friday, January 01, 2016

A New Year’s Resolution for Connecticut

State Senator Tony Hwang
It’s that time of year. We make resolutions. To get healthier, to be more organized, to be better people. At the Connecticut State Capitol, it is my hope that Republicans and Democrats can make a resolution we will stick to in 2016 and for decades to come.
Let’s resolve to make long-term structural budget reforms to restore predictability and sustainability to our state. Think what these reforms can do for Connecticut.
Create “An Ecosystem” Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and CEO of Fairfield-based General Electric, recently said that GE doesn’t look for special taxpayer-funded deals, “but we need an ecosystem… that’s willing to fight hard to be competitive and enduring for the future. We will always have a big presence in Connecticut, but we think the power of an ecosystem is important.”
Connecticut can create that ecosystem by making tough decisions now regarding how your taxpayer dollars are spent. Plugging budget holes year after year via gimmicks and tax hikes is not the solution to our seemingly endless flow of red ink.
If we focus on creating the “ecosystem” Immelt describes, we can create a climate for innovation, job growth. Imagine the positive message it would send to employers of small, medium and large businesses if we showed them that their concerns are being heard in Hartford.
Where to Start? The budgets that are passed by the Democratic majorities at the State Capitol are built upon quicksand, with the latest budget requiring emergency fixes less than six months after it was signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Taxes rise, services for vulnerable residents get cut and the pattern repeats.
It’s the new normal, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Like any New Year’s Resolution, achieving the “ecosystem” won’t be easy, but we need to start now. Getting to more stable fiscal ground will require prioritization and discipline. Staying focused on controlling state government spending will bring positive results. For starters, state labor and pension costs must be curtailed, we need to enact a cap on state spending which has teeth, and Connecticut’s ever-rising level of borrowing needs to be contained.
Bringing costs under control will foster an environment of certainty which will help Connecticut compete for business. Tackling our structural budget problems in a responsible way will help bring about the “ecosystem” envisioned by GE’s Immelt and other Connecticut job creators.
Connecticut taxpayers: this resolution requires your input as well if it is to become a reality.
You can encourage your elected officials to make these reforms by contacting them frequently in 2016. Don’t underestimate your crucial role in this process, and make your voice heard early and often.
So Happy New Year, Connecticut! Now, let’s get to work.

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