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Dealing with Connecticut's Worsts

Hot topics in Hartford.

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1. Read all about it!

 

The Nutmeg State seems to be making headlines lately—for all the wrong reasons, said one local lawmaker.

State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican representing Bethel, Ridgefield, New Canaan, Weston, Westport and Wilton in the 26th Senate District, said state leaders must address the recent spate of negative news.

Recent articles, some of which have made national news, include that Connecticut is the most heavily taxed state in the nation, that Connecticut has , that the state received a and that Connecticut is and has .

Benjamin Barnes, Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, called Moody’s downgrade wrong and irresponsible. Barnes said the rating agency downgraded the state to satisfy their internal corporate need to deflect attention from their historic lack of credibility. 

That response irked Boucher.

“Agree with it or not, the last thing I would do is figuratively punch them in the eye and say, 'You are bad, stupid people,'” Boucher said. “We need to deal with the situation.”

However, Barnes said Connecticut has always paid its debt and still remains an attractive issuer of public debt. “Investors appreciate Connecticut’s strong income levels, conservative debt management practices and fiscally conservative leadership,” Barnes said in a statement last week.

While state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, a Democrat representing Westport in the 136th House District, said Barnes might have taken a softer tone; the essence of what he said is true.

“Perhaps Barnes was testy in his response last week, but there really is a lack of credibility of rating agencies,” Steinberg said.

And although Steinberg understands the frustration regarding some of the headlines; he said: “It’s not news about Connecticut having highest debt per capita. We even had that during time when pensions were funded.”

Instead the real problem facing the General Assembly is that legislators can only tinker around the edges of the budget next session. Substantial changes can’t be made until 2013.

 

2. Cut along the dotted lines

 

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy plans emergency cuts of $79 million in spending. Some of the cuts will include not filling vacant positions and higher standards for new hires. For example, public health and safety must be at stake. The executive branch will handle $72.1 million of the cuts. The legislature must cut $800,000 and the judicial branch will handle $5.67 million of the cuts.

Lawrence Miller a Republican representing Shelton and Stratford in the 122nd House District said the cuts are necessary, but he’s still worried that taxes could be raised again.

 “We need cuts, not increased taxes and you never know with this group,” Miller said. “We’re just so bad it’s not funny. It’s very frustrating, I’ll tell you.”

The cuts were announced after the administration announced the state’s surplus had shrunk to $1.4 million, or 1/134th of 1 percent of the general fund.

 

3. Real Estate

 

The CT Realtors Association is a good barometer of the economy’s health, said Boucher.

“Realtors are canary in the coal mine — they have ears on everything going on. National news is making their jobs hard,” Boucher said.

Boucher said real estate agents she’s chatted with say they can still sell Connecticut’s beauty and education—though she says it’s lagged a bit—but the higher taxes are having an impact, she said.

 

4. Making it in Connecticut

 

President Barack Obama recently called for increased manufacturing to help boost the nation’s economy. Here in Connecticut, lawmakers are saying the same thing.

"Connecticut's unemployment rate continues to fall, which shows that our previous bipartisan jobs efforts are working, but we must do more. This session we can expand our existing job creation programs to include more small businesses, promote local Connecticut Made products, and help our unemployed veterans find good paying jobs," state Sen. Anthony Musto, a Democrat representing Bridgeport, Monroe and Trumbull in the 22nd Senate District, said in a written statement.

To that end the Senate Democrats recently announced a five-point jobs plan that includes:

1. Expanding the definition of a ‘small business’ from 50 employees to 100 employees, thereby making them eligible for the Small Business Express Program and other programs created during the October special session.

2. Expanding Step-Up (Subsidized Training and Employment Program) to give businesses incentive grants to hire post-9/11 combat veterans returning from overseas.

3. Creating a ‘Connecticut Made’ marketing campaign to spur local businesses, both production and retail.

4. Preventing discrimination against the unemployed. Statutory changes would prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants simply because they are unemployed, including preventing employment agencies and Web sites from carrying advertisements for job openings that specifically exclude the unemployed.

5. Creating a ‘Connecticut Treasures’ program. Connecticut has a wealth of educational and tourist destinations and the state DECD would be tasked with promoting places such as Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut Science Center, and . The state Department of Education could simultaneously develop a model curriculum for all public schools that incorporates the use of these destinations.

"Job creation remains our top legislative priority this year, and especially jobs for veterans, who have a much higher unemployment rate than the general population," said state Sen. Carlo Leone, a Democrat representing Stamford in the 27thSenate District and Senate Chair of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. "In Connecticut, 15.5 percent of post 9/11 veterans are unemployed. We must do better for those who fought for our freedom, and our proposed expansion of the STEP Up program will help many veterans to find work. They fought valiantly for our country, they should not have to fight for jobs back home." 

Charley January 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Raise taxes, it's going to get better, trust me, not. The CT electorate just isn't that smart, this is all no surprise. When more than half the state has their hand out, it becomes a classic example of left wing ideology gone amuk. What happens when people and businesses of Southern Fairfield County start saying forget this and move out?
Trevor January 31, 2012 at 02:09 AM
I love how they want to tell business who they can hire and who they can't????? That's a great way to spur on business in CT........ Liberals are unbelievable.
Stan January 31, 2012 at 04:44 AM
This state is doomed. Stories like this make me glad that I'm moving to another state. Apparently the politicians in Hartford think they can tax CT into prosperity and that the citizens will not change their behavior based on tax (dis)incentives. Look at all the states that have high taxes and yet still have enormous budget problems: CA, IL, NY. Even a Liberal should be able to figure out that the spending is the problem, not the revenue. Keep voting for the Democrats and pretty soon there will be nobody left to tax. Enough is enough.
Rich January 31, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Agree with all the comments, they are all right on.
sebastian dangerfield January 31, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Charley-- agreed-- and now main stream media and democrats are trying their best to depict financial success as the product of a system stacked against the masses. Its a strange position taken by a minority President who grew up with a single parent who was not particularly well off. Seems to me--that Obama understands that the deck is not fully stacked ----(I agree the field is not completely level)--but to portray success as something to be ashamed of, is ultimately not a very good strategy. What do young people now think? That the right thing to do, is camp out and burn the flag? The Democrats are playing populist politics--and while it might get them votes, its a very dangerous long term strategy.
Larry L. Daigneault April 12, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Conservatives have been whining about taxes since the Whiskey Rebellion, which the liberal Geo. Washington crushed with nary a shot. A not surprising turn of events given conservatives are lying cowards. The founders recognized businessmen could not be trusted and hence the need for regulation, indeed one of Jefferson's complaints in the Declaration of Independence was the lack of Crown action (legislation) to control rampant fraud by middlemen. CT's nickname, the Nutmeg state, alludes to the fact traders would sell wooden nutmegs to the Dutch in NY. The Dutch name for these CT scammers: Yankees. CT's economy is in poor state like the nation's because of the continuing Bush tax cuts and the GOP efforts in blocking significant relief efforts. The never legally elected GW Bush was the first two term pResident to have a NEGATIVE NET jobs creation rate. Even the arch-conservative Hitler had the sense to use Keynesian economics to bring Germany out of the Great Depression. Trickle-down has always produced failures: Great Depression (1932-33), Reagan depression 1982-83, Great Depression II (2007-8). When FDR listened to the debt hawks in 1937, we got a recession in 1937-38.
sebastian dangerfield April 12, 2012 at 04:43 AM
larry? Whining? Thats a great term. I can write a sonnet about how liberals whine about any benefits for people who work since the beginning of time. I can then point to Greece, to the Jimmy carter induced recession (hey ifyou can blame bush for obama's term, why not ?) The way I look at the situation is this. If we have a homeowners association and we are 20 homes and we need a new roof for a shed that will cost 10,000 ---it would be 'fair' if each homeowner paid 500 dollars. But in our country, we first take the 10k roof and find the people who elected us,and pay that guy 15k for the roof. Now we say that 7 homeowners retired early and cant afford it, so they ask the wealthier homeowners to each give 1000 instead of 500. Not fair really. But here is the kicker, larry..... the people who never pay anything all get a vote. And guess how they vote all the time? Thats right, they vote for spending. Why wouldnt they--they just have to tell the rich people to pay for the stuff. and that is why this country is in the shape its in. Because liberals have decided that not working and not paying taxes is actually viewed as more 'fair' than paying 2 or 3 times what the majority pay. As far as mixing your history lessons up --whilst trying to arrive at some misguided attack on conservatives...you apparently are not aware of what the rebellion/revolution was about. It was about too high of taxes and tarriffs levied by an out of control govt.

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