First Happy New Year! I hope everyone has tucked away the last bit of remininces of the year that was. The Courant, however, leads with the recycled news of legislative visions dancing to the beat of monday morning keyboards. The first grafs from the artcile headlined State Faces Daunting Issues In Legislature:
Skyrocketing electric rates. Universal health care. Correcting problems within the state police. Car taxes.
The menu of difficult issues confronting the new General Assembly beginning this week is daunting, even to veteran lawmakers.
No, these are recycled issues and avoid the big issues that confront us mere residents. A shorter, sweeter list:
- Roads are impassable
- Taxes are too high
- State spending exceeds revenue
Now there are many causes for the above, paradoxically even too many people wanting to live in Connecticut despite the short list, but if our state government wanted to work on the big issues that only government can solve, the first item on the agenda would be to adopt the motto “you can’t manage what you don’t know” and move to adopt the GAAP. From Governing Magazine:
Connecticut’s governmental leaders traditionally have been reluctant to predict how decisions of today will play out in the future. Budget writers have avoided consideration of the long-term consequences of underfunding pension accounts and relieving cash shortfalls with single-shot revenue gimmicks. “We do five-year economic forecasting,” says Robert Gennuario, a longtime legislator and now secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. “But it’s very rarely looked at or utilized in planning our budgets.”
The state’s unusual way of keeping its books has made it somewhat easier to hide from the truth. Connecticut accounts for many of its revenue streams as quickly as possible, while taking the opposite approach with its expenses. The result is that when you convert the state’s books to a more conservative approach, you can find many millions of dollars in artificially buoyed funds.
Sure, rising electricity rates are an ongoing problem. One that is directly affected by the lack of long range outcome planning that seems endemic to the legislature. Or maybe its memory loss. Here’s this gem form last May , CT News Junkie:
But didn’t the General Assembly already pass legislation that touched on these topics last fall?
Department of Public Utility Control Donald Downes who sat through a few hours of testimony Wednesday at the Energy Summit seemed frustrated by the short-term memory loss.
Downes reminded the legislators it was just nine-months ago during the September special session that it passed the Energy Independence Act, which included many of the solutions being discussed at the summit.
The Energy Independence Act addressed both short term and long term solutions to the energy crisis, Downes said.
The act calls for the DPUC to issue a request for proposals to identify measures that would reduce congestion costs, including re-purchasing power plants or building new ones. Before 2005, the law under deregulation prohibited utilities from re-purchasing power plants or building new ones.
So which is it? Ignoring laws already passed or failing to account for future possible outcomes?
But the Courant continues to track the back and forth between Rell, Williams, Looney and Aman over who spends what while repeating the claim that there’s a budget surplus. From The Courant article:
Rell said she is trying to spread the word that the legislature must be cautious on spending, even though the projected budget surplus for the current fiscal year has barreled past $500 million. The coffers are full now, but deficits are projected starting next year if the state keeps increasing spending at its current rate.
“I spoke with the speaker, and he actually said to me, `Keep repeating it,’ because people need to understand that, long-term, we’re looking at a potential deficit if we don’t change anything as far as current services,” Rell said.
Amann, meanwhile, rejects the notion that Democrats have been renegade spenders. Members of his party have abided by the state-mandated spending cap, he said.
Meanwhile, Martin Looney, Senate majority leader and a longtime advocate for an earned income tax credit for the working poor, says Democrats will push again for that tax relief. The plan was scuttled last year in a stand-off with Rell.
They used to say that Enron was a profitable company too.