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Connecticut Should Budget Like A Household

Chris Rutledge

While Connecticut may be one of the wealthiest states in the nation (when comparing median annual income), few of us are born into the lap of luxury.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself if a dire financial situation.  Maybe your furnace or hot water heater went on the fritz.  Maybe your car needed a major repair. Maybe the dentist said you needed a root canal and insurance will only cover 50%.  I suspect a lot of hands are raised.  And in such a situation, I’ll bet many of you have asked “how am I going to afford this?”.  If you have, you’re not alone.

Let’s face it.  Many (if not most) of us have been in a financial predicament at some point in our lives.  When a household finds itself on the edge of that financial cliff, what do you do?  Is your first response to find a new job or another way to immediately increase revenue?  Probably not.  And even if that was your first thought, the likelihood of finding a new revenue stream that quickly is slim to none.  Instead, you probably look for ways to cut some expenses while seeing if you have anything in reserve to help cover these unexpected costs.  In the end, perhaps your solution is some combination of tapping into savings, putting the expense on credit and reducing how much you spend on entertainment or discretionary items so you can pay off the debt.  That’s one example of how a household responsibly budgets when faced with a financial dilemma.  Unfortunately, our State government isn’t acting that responsibly.

Connecticut, too, finds itself in a serious financial pinch.  Projected State expenses are exceeding anticipated revenue.  But instead of looking for ways to save, our Governor and Legislative leaders want to increase our cost of living through higher taxes, more fees and an even greater regulatory burden.  Instead of reducing fixed costs by renegotiating the overly generous salary, pension and other benefits within the SEBAC agreement (between the State and public sector unions), Governor Ned Malloy Lamont wants to expand the sales tax and implement new property taxes.  Instead of finding ways to lower road construction costs (which are among the highest in the nation), Democrats in the Legislature want to implement tolls across Connecticut while increasing the gas tax.  And instead of implementing long-term revenue generating policies to attract businesses and spur economic growth, our leaders want to increase the cost of doing business in Connecticut by raising the minimum wage, levying fees on plastic bags and liquor bottles and through a litany of other policies driving skilled workers out of our state.

So again, what options are available when expenses exceed income?  Whether a government or a household budget are involved, you can look for additional sources of revenue, try to cut expenses or some combination of the two.  When the focus is on short-term revenue gains (through higher taxes, fees and regulatory burdens), eventually the well runs dry.  There’s only so much you can tax before taxation becomes counter-productive.  That’s the situation Connecticut Democrats have put us in.  Instead, our Democrat leaders in the Connecticut Legislature and the Governor’s Mansion should take a few pages out of Household Budgeting 101.  These leaders need to find ways of reducing fixed costs, generating long-term savings and enacting policies for long-term revenue growth.  That’s the way a responsible household creates its budget.  And that’s the only way Connecticut will remedy its current fiscal crisis.

Chris Rutledge
Previously published in the Enfield Press
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