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  #431  
Old 09-01-2017, 01:58 PM
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CONNECTICUT

http://www.governing.com/topics/fina...-problems.html

Quote:
How Did America's Richest State Become Such a Fiscal Mess?
Connecticut is home to many wealthy residents. Its state government, on the other hand, is feeling the consequences of what some call "two decades of bad decisions."

BY ALAN GREENBLATT | SEPTEMBER 2017

Connecticut may be too rich for its own good. Long blessed with a disproportionate number of high-income residents, the state has entertained lavish spending habits for decades. Lawmakers have acted as if they were on a shopping spree at Christmas, confident that the money to pay off the credit cards would somehow be found in the new year. Meanwhile, they have avoided many of their less glamorous responsibilities -- depositing money into pension accounts and other retirement benefits, and paying for adequate infrastructure maintenance. Now, all those bills are coming due, and the money isn’t there to pay them.

Budget problems have become chronic in Connecticut. This year, they got worse. Faced with a projected $5 billion shortfall over the state’s two-year budget period, the legislature blew well past the July 1 budget deadline. (There was still no agreement on a budget as of mid-August.) “People have come to expect a very high level of services, while keeping taxes low,” says state Rep. William Tong. “That math doesn’t work. People are facing two decades of bad decisions and we’re having to reckon with that new reality.” In May, the three major credit rating agencies all downgraded the state, citing weak revenues. Continuing budget fights and tax increases have driven down business confidence.

Connecticut’s economic problems extend well beyond the budget. The state prospered in the 1970s and 1980s, when nearby New York City was dangerous and Connecticut’s suburban landscape was welcoming. Corporations were eager to resettle there. But fashions have changed. Millennials and corporations have developed a hankering for urban life. That urge has robbed Connecticut’s suburban landscape of its appeal. This was demonstrated starkly by the decisions of two of its marquee employers, General Electric and Aetna, to move their headquarters to Boston and Manhattan, respectively. That bad news has fed a broader negative narrative about the state, with damning coverage in outlets such as Slate, The Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal.

.....
Connecticut can’t say it wasn’t warned. Back in 1999, a report by a consultant named Michael Gallis identified the state’s aging transportation network, its “fragmented political structure” and the lack of a metropolitan center or strategy as glaring weaknesses. The report was widely discussed and still gets talked about in planning circles, but it didn’t convince policymakers or the public that the state needed to change its ways. A sense of isolation -- that Connecticut benefited from not having the same problems as New York or Boston -- kept residents thinking of their state as its own little pocket of prosperity, rather than as part of a bigger region in which it must compete

.....
The state is also struggling to fund its teachers’ retirement system. While it has been able to renegotiate benefit levels with its own employees, benefits for teachers are negotiated with local districts. If the state isn’t able to stretch out its payments to the teachers’ pension plan, as it did with the state workers’ fund, its mandated contributions are set to balloon from $1.2 billion this year to $6 billion in 2024. “We are faced with legacy problems that have finally caught up with us,” says Matt Ritter, the state House Democratic leader.

Longstanding debt isn’t Connecticut’s only financial problem. Back in 1992, shortly after the state imposed a personal income tax, voters overwhelmingly approved a spending cap. The constitutional amendment they voted for, however, didn’t define what the spending cap would be. The legislature has been able routinely to exceed the statutory cap by declaring spending “emergencies” or employing other gimmicks. In 2015, the state attorney general ruled that the spending cap as it stands is legally unenforceable.
......
Connecticut has an intergovernmental setup unlike that of any other state. For all practical purposes, it has no counties. Services that in most states are financed and shared by multiple jurisdictions, such as courthouses and roads, are handled at the state level in Connecticut. A few city and town functions have been consolidated here and there-- back-office accounting for libraries, the occasional animal shelter. But regional consolidation of schools and public safety are considered third-rail issues. Connecticut, which is home to 3.6 million people, has 111 police dispatch centers. By comparison, Houston, which has 2.3 million residents, has just one emergency dispatch center, which handles fire as well as police. One Connecticut high school had a graduating class of 45 students this year. Rather than sending the kids somewhere else, its district is expanding and renovating the campus.


The only real source of revenue for local governments in Connecticut is the property tax. Since demand for services is often greatest in the bigger cities, their property tax rates end up being quite high -- often double the rate charged by neighboring towns. The problem is particularly acute in Hartford, where more than half the land is occupied by state facilities or other nontaxable entities. The city’s population doubles during working hours, but commuter taxes are illegal, so Hartford has no real way to reach beyond its own borders to get resources from neighboring towns whose residents benefit from city services. “The state of Connecticut owes the city of Hartford $50 million to $60 million a year in payments in lieu of taxes,” says Cynthia Jennings, a member of Hartford’s city council. “For almost 20 years, they have not paid what they owe us. Not even close.”


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  #432  
Old 09-06-2017, 05:19 PM
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http://www.governing.com/topics/fina...debt.html#data

Quote:
What Are Cities Spending Big On? Increasingly, It's Debt.
Many have gotten themselves into a fiscal squeeze paying bills they ran up decades ago. View data for dozens of cities.

When citizens think about where local taxpayer money goes, they often assume it pays for things like public safety, snow removal and trash collection -- routine operating expenses that come with running any big city. And that’s mostly true. But what they rarely realize is that legacy costs also eat up large portions of the typical city’s budget. Debt accumulated over many years, contributions to employee retirement systems and the expense of fixing long-neglected infrastructure all take a significant toll.

Merritt Research Services provided Governing with data on current debt service, pension costs and other post-employment benefit (OPEB) expenses for cities with populations exceeding 500,000. These three cost drivers collectively averaged nearly a quarter of total governmental fund expenditures in recent years. What’s worrisome is that legacy costs are rising, taking up ever-larger shares of budgets. For the large cities reviewed, the three line items accounted for a median of 22.4 percent of fiscal 2016 governmental fund spending, up from 19.8 percent in fiscal 2011. In some big cities, the increase has been much greater. Consider Jacksonville, Fla. Debt, pensions and OPEB made up less than 20 percent of expenditures there in 2008. Since then they have climbed to about 32 percent in recent budgets.

.....
Milwaukee is a prime example of this legacy problem. It utilizes more short-term debt than most other cities -- debt service alone took up 34 percent of fiscal 2015 governmental fund spending, according to the city’s comprehensive annual financial report. Once pensions and OPEB contributions are factored in, legacy costs accounted for an average of 43 percent of spending over the past three fiscal years, the highest share of any city reviewed.

Depending on the circumstances, high-debt loads don’t necessarily signal mismanagement of a city’s finances. “There are good and bad capital projects,” says Tracy Gordon, a senior fellow with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. But, she adds, “places that are poorly run could be taking on more debt than they can afford.”

Some states and localities impose strict limits on debt or restrict the purposes for which it can be issued. That’s the case in Boston, which limits debt to 7 percent of expenditures. Boston, which spent an average of 14 percent of its recent budgets on debt service, pensions and OPEB, is one of the cities on the low end of the legacy cost spectrum. Seattle’s legacy costs were the smallest of all larger jurisdictions reviewed, accounting for an average of just over 12 percent of fiscal 2013-2015 expenses. Generally speaking, small and mid-size cities tend to be less saddled by legacy costs than the biggest ones.

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  #433  
Old 09-07-2017, 04:16 PM
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http://www.governing.com/topics/fina...this-year.html

Quote:
Why a Record Number of States Passed Budgets Late This Year (If at All)
Politics and finances are largely to blame. But some say it's a trend not worth worrying about.

As the number of split-power statehouses has increased in recent years, so too have late state budgets.

A whopping 11 states started their current fiscal years without a signed budget, and another 10 missed their initial deadline and had to call a special session to approve a spending plan. It’s the highest number of stalled budgets in recent memory and the product of increasingly tense political and economic factors.

.....
A big reason for states' continued money problems is that the growth of their fixed costs is outpacing their annual revenue growth. “Pensions and Medicaid dollars are growing quickly,” Boyd says, “and not leaving much money to spend on the things you want to do.”

Politics are also to blame. The 2014 elections resulted in an increase in split-power states where the executive and legislative branches are controlled by different parties. Starting in 2015, at least half of the late or stalled budgets were in split-power states or where the legislature was split between two parties.

Case in point: Illinois’ notorious two-year budget gridlock started when its Republican governor took office and began clashing with the Democratic-controlled legislature over spending.

Some of the other reasons behind stalled and late state budgets have been more topical. Wisconsin, one of two states still without a signed budget this year, is stalled over transportation funding. Otherwise, it has relatively healthy finances. In fact, Moody’s Investors Service just upgraded the state’s credit rating, citing its manageable fixed costs, conservative budgeting and steady economic growth. Late budgets in Maine, New Jersey and Rhode Island were also over similarly singular issues.

.....
For example, Samuels says, some states are struggling under the weight of a systemic financial imbalance that prior budgets have papered over with one-time fixes. It’s becoming harder and harder each year to ignore the underlying problems as slow revenue growth and spending pressures mount.

Samuels points to Connecticut, which has struggled with annual budget deficits in the face of shrinking revenues and increasing costs. It is the other state that has yet to pass a fiscal 2018 budget as lawmakers try to solve a $3.5 billion budget gap over the next two years. The state’s late budget, though, doesn’t come as much of a surprise: It has been downgraded by ratings agencies several times over the past few years, mainly because it has solved its chronic budget shortfalls with one-time solutions.

Connecticut’s not alone in papering over budget shortfalls until it hits a wall. Illinois and Pennsylvania have routinely passed late budgets in recent years and have also faced downgrades for their chronic deficits.

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  #434  
Old 09-08-2017, 05:54 PM
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HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT

http://www.courant.com/community/har...907-story.html

Quote:
Hartford Can Meet Financial Obligations For Only 60 Days; Bankruptcy Likely Without State Aid

Mayor Luke Bronin fired a warning shot at lawmakers and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Thursday, saying Hartford would seek permission to file for bankruptcy if the city didn’t get the state aid it needs by early November.

In a sharply worded letter to House and Senate leaders and to Malloy, Bronin cautioned: “If the state fails to enact a budget and continues to operate under the governor’s current executive order, the city of Hartford will be unable to meet its financial obligations in approximately 60 days.”

The state budget stalemate is a threat to many Connecticut cities, but has posed exceptional problems for Hartford. Projections show the capital city, facing a $65 million deficit this year, will run into cash-flow issues in November and December, including a $39.2 million end-of-year shortage.

Malloy unveiled new budget proposals Thursday that would restore funding for municipalities and reject major education cuts planned for Oct. 1. Democrats and Republicans met in an attempt to reach common ground.

But Bronin warned that the “extraordinary measures” other towns are considering in response to the state’s ongoing budget gridlock — layoffs, cuts to services and drawing from rainy day funds — are actions Hartford has taken already.

In 2016, the mayor laid off 40 workers and cut millions from city departments. He also used most of Hartford’s rainy-day fund to help offset deficits.

Still, Hartford had to borrow millions in June to help pay its bills.
....
“I think there’s a reality that Hartford needs real and major restructuring that could be accomplished in a bankruptcy,” Malloy told The Courant Thursday. “It could be accomplished outside of a bankruptcy, but I think as days go by it becomes more likely that Hartford will be going bankrupt.”

.....
Last month, Moody’s Investors Service noted that the financially troubled city was rapidly approaching debt repayment deadlines. Hartford owes $3.8 million in September and $26.9 million in October.

The ratings agency said the city’s “path to fiscal sustainability will likely require debt restructuring along with some combination of labor concessions, other expenditure cuts and new revenues.”

City leaders stressed Thursday that they want a long-term solution to Hartford’s problems.

“We’re not interested in patches. We’re not interested in a short-term bailout,” Bronin told reporters at city hall. “We’re not interested in Band-Aids. And we’re not interested in leaving this problem for future legislatures or future mayors. ... We’re interested in fixing this.”



http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/...cy-update.html

Quote:
Hartford Warns It Could File for Bankruptcy -- Update


.....

"We could not agree more with the urgency of the situation, particularly for the City of Hartford," a spokeswoman for Mr. Malloy said. "We continue to hope to have a full budget adopted by October to mitigate the harm and avoid having towns or cities go through reorganization."

The state of Connecticut itself is facing its own fiscal challenges and has yet to pass a budget for the current fiscal year that would close a $3.5 billion spending gap. Since July 1, state operations have been funded by an executive order signed Mr. Malloy that has slashed funding for cities and towns across Connecticut.

Democratic Speaker of House Joe Aresimowicz said Wednesday he planned to call for a vote on the budget on Sept. 14 even though lawmakers have yet to reach a consensus on a spending plan. It is unclear if there will be enough votes in both chambers to pass it.

House Democrats said calling for a vote on the budget will put pressure on lawmakers to choose between that spending plan, which likely would give more money to cities and towns, or the governor's executive order, which has made painful cuts to municipal funding.
......
Only 64 bankruptcies have been filed by cities, counties, towns and villages since 1954, according to James Spiotto, an attorney who tracks municipalities' bankruptcies.

The Californian cities of San Bernardino and Stockton filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico filed for a form of bankruptcy that incorporates parts of chapter 9 law, the type of protection used by struggling cities and counties earlier this year.

Rising fixed costs for health care and pensions have been driving Hartford's fiscal challenges. The city is on the hook for nearly $180 million in payments for debt service, health care, pensions and other costs for the current fiscal year. That is more than half of the city's budget, excluding education.

Hartford's officials said the city has a debt problem. The city said its law firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP will engage in negotiations with its bondholders and asked the state for its support.

"Our bondholders understand that our debt burden is unmanageable," city officials said in the letter. "They will need to be part of the solution today, through a serious, sustainable, long-term debt restructuring."

Hartford likely can't cut spending to solve its problems, according to a recent report by Moody's Investors Service.

"There is very little room for further cuts, given the reductions in services the city has already made and its fixed costs and education mandates," Moody's said. "Hartford would likely be eliminating, rather than reducing, core services."


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  #435  
Old 09-11-2017, 08:59 PM
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DALLAS, TEXAS

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/dall...pension-reform

Quote:
Dallas credit outlook upgraded to stable after pension reform

After more than a year of persistent credit downgrades, the city of Dallas enjoyed some good financial news late Friday when the credit ratings agency Fitch revised City Hall's longterm outlook from negative to stable.
The change reflects Fitch's approval of reforms the state Legislature adopted in the last session to save the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System from insolvency — largely by increasing contributions and reducing benefits.
It also noted voter-approved reforms to the city's civilian pension system as a positive step toward financial security.

The report cited Dallas' "strong economic and revenue growth prospects, conservative budgeting, solid reserve levels, and long-term liabilities that Fitch expects to remain a moderate burden on resources given the recent pension reforms."
The agency also affirmed Dallas' AA credit rating. In October, Fitch downgraded Dallas' rating from AA+ to AA.
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:15 AM
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http://www.naic.org/capital_markets_archive/170913.htm

Quote:
U.S. Insurer Municipal Bond Update
On Aug. 17, 2017, the NAIC Capital Markets Bureau held a special session for state insurance regulators to discuss recent news headlines related to state and local budget issues, and their impact on the municipal bond market. Invited as guest speakers were representatives from Build America Mutual Assurance Company and Standards & Poor’s (S&P) Global Ratings. While municipal bonds have had historically low default rates, some U.S. states and territories have been experiencing financial challenges, with “battered budgets” and revenue shortfalls.
In 2013, the city of Detroit, MI, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection as it struggled to pay about $18.5 billion in debt; at the time, it was the largest such filing in U.S. history. In December 2014, Detroit emerged from bankruptcy protection. In May 2016, the NAIC Capital Markets Bureau published a Hot Spot regarding Puerto Rico’s failure to repay almost $400 million in government bonds—the largest missed principal payment by the island at that point in time. Earlier that year, Puerto Rico had defaulted on $37 million in municipal bonds. Eventually, Puerto Rico filed for a form of bankruptcy protection on May 3, 2017 (under Title III of a 2016 Puerto Rico law known as PROMESA), as it struggled to pay more than $70 billion in public-sector debt. These instances of filing for bankruptcy protection, however, are atypical to the municipal bond market.
In 2017, several U.S. states cited budget difficulties, some resulting in brief government shutdowns, such as in Maine and New Jersey. In addition, Illinois was without a budget for three years and has a deep budget deficit; its long-term debt rating (now rated BBB- by S&P Global Ratings) was placed on negative watch by S&P Global Ratings in July 2017, citing risks over the implementation of a recent pension reform law. In all, about 33 U.S. states have projected revenue shortfalls in 2017, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers, more than any year since 2010. States’ revenues have been negatively impacted by decreasing energy prices (reducing energy taxes) and depressed sales tax collections (due to an increase in online shopping). Consequently, the states have had to tighten spending. Federal tax cuts are expected to amplify the effect, placing a greater strain on already inflicted state budgets.
some graphs:



2013 is the Detroit bankruptcy; 2016 is Puerto Rico

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  #437  
Old 09-20-2017, 05:43 PM
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HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT

http://www.governing.com/topics/fina...ankruptcy.html

Quote:
Is Connecticut to Blame for Hartford's Looming Bankruptcy?
The state's way of governing may be causing some of its capital city's financial problems.

BY LIZ FARMER | SEPTEMBER 20, 2017


As Connecticut lawmakers debate the best way to close a $3.5 billion shortfall over the next two years, its capital city is having a fiscal crisis of its own, and it highlights how the state's parochial way of governing hurts big cities.


Connecticut has long been touted for its wealthy suburbs. The state has one of the highest median incomes in the country. But the departure in recent years of businesses such as Aetna and General Electric to New York City and Boston, respectively, have sent a signal that times are changing: Connecticut doesn't have the vibrant city life that many companies are looking for these days.


The state's small-town mindset was recently on full display when Gov. Dannel Malloy appealed to Amazon to locate its second headquarters there. In his pitch, the governor didn't cite Hartford or New Haven -- two of the state's biggest cities -- as a selling point, but rather the state's proximity to Boston and New York City.

That snub was acutely felt by Hartford, which is now on the precipice of bankruptcy. "I think one of the reasons Connecticut has been slower to recover from the Great Recession is that we long ago missed the boat and failed to recognize the role that cities play in economic development today," says Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. "If we want to position Connecticut to be competitive, we need to position our cities to be competitive."

Bronin acknowledges that the idea runs counter to Connecticut's highly parochial structure. "We have a state of 3.5 million people," he says, "and it's carved into 169 municipalities where every service is duplicated in every one of those municipalities."

That may work fine for the suburbs. But for cities that are home to government and academic institutions that are tax-exempt, it means they are paying for more with a lot less revenue to draw upon. That is certainly true in its capital city, Hartford.

Half of its roughly $8 billion in property is tax-exempt. Hartford itself is home to fewer than 124,000 residents, meaning it has a small tax base that doesn't cover the property tax revenue gap. Connecticut also doesn't allow local sales or income taxes, so those options are off the table. And while driving through on Interstate 84 gives the impression that Hartford is comparable to any other mid-sized city, looks are deceiving. Further limiting the city's tax base is the fact that the metro area is divided into three separate jurisdictions: Hartford, East Hartford and West Hartford (the latter two would merely be suburban outskirts of the center city in most other places).

Making matters worse, the state does not fully fund Hartford's PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, which is made to compensate a local government for some or all of the tax revenue lost due to tax-exempt property. This year, the existing PILOT formula would have given the city approximately $89.5 million in additional revenue. Instead, the state sent Hartford $37.2 million.

This year, the existing PILOT formula would have given the city approximately $89.5 million in additional revenue. Instead, the state sent Hartford $37.2 million.

Now, Hartford is facing a nearly $50 million budget hole -- about 8 percent of its spending -- and revenues have stagnated. Property taxes are already the highest in the state, and officials have made major service cuts to programs such as community organizations, senior centers and the city's paratransit service.

"Start with a very small city and take half the property off the tax rolls, and you have a fiscal structure that is built to fail," Bronin says. "That is the fundamental structural problem that underlies Hartford's fiscal crisis."

Of course, not all of Hartford's problems can be blamed on the state. Hartford is dealing with backloaded debt payments from previous administrations. As a result, its budget this year increases overall spending to cover those rising costs even as it cuts services. By the city's estimate, its debt payments will balloon to $61 million by 2021, or roughly 20 percent of its noneducation budget.

But now, by all measures, Hartford's immediate future is in the state's hands. If the state fails to pass a budget by Oct. 1, cities across the state will be forced to deal with zero or highly reduced aid from the state. In Hartford's case, Bronin says it wouldn't receive $56 million in scheduled state aid, which would prompt a cash flow crisis that could force it into Chapter 9 bankruptcy. As that deadline nears, Hartford already seems to be laying the groundwork to make its case for bankruptcy.

State lawmakers are acutely aware of Hartford's status, but they're more interested in talking about a financial takeover than the kind of economic partnership Bronin wants, which includes giving Hartford more revenue-raising power, continued support in local economic development projects and fully funding the city's PILOT. Bronin says that any solution to Hartford's structural budget issues would also have to involve renegotiated union contracts and negotiations with bondholders -- two things that are typically difficult to achieve outside of bankruptcy.

Bronin's statements have triggered warning sirens in the municipal bond market. Last week, Municipal Market Analytics added Hartford to its database of defaulted and impaired municipal bonds, calling Bronin a "mayor seemingly devoted to bankruptcy." The city also received "super downgrades" into deep junk status from Moody's Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings because of its impending cash flow crisis.

"In other words," wrote Municipal Market Analytics Analyst Matt Fabian, "it's on."

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Old 09-21-2017, 05:51 PM
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PENNSYLVANIA

http://www.pennlive.com/politics/ind...7b_in_pay.html

Quote:
Pennsylvania delays $1.7B in payments amid budget stalemate

HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania state government will delay more than $1.7 billion in payments due to Medicaid insurers and school districts, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday, amid an unprecedented cash crunch and a fight in the Republican-controlled Legislature over how to plug a projected $2.2 billion budget hole.

Wolf's office issued the brief statement acknowledging the delays on the day the state's main bank account was projected to dip below zero.

The payments are reimbursements for medical care under Medicaid and for the state's share of pension obligation payments to Pennsylvania's school employees pension fund. The Medicaid reimbursements, due Friday, will be delayed for at least a week, Wolf's office said. School officials said they expected the pension obligation reimbursements to be delayed by a matter of a few days.

As long as the budget stalemate goes on, state officials expect rolling delays of payments, at least until spring.

"We've been told it's going out next week," said Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. "After that, we've been told, 'Don't hold your breath.'"

Insurers that administer benefits for 2.2 million Medicaid enrollees say the delayed payment will force them to borrow money to make timely payments to hospitals, physicians and pharmacies that are required by federal law. The cost to borrow contractually can be charged to the state, Wolf's administration said.

It is the first known time that Pennsylvania state government has missed a payment as a result of not having enough cash. Wolf has spending authority under a nearly $32 billion budget bill lawmakers overwhelmingly passed June 30, amounting to a 3 percent increase.

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Old 09-21-2017, 06:02 PM
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CONNECTICUT

http://reason.com/blog/2017/09/18/co...-state#new_tab

Quote:
New England's Illinois: Connecticut's Budget Mess Shows That States Can't Tax Themselves to Prosperity
Dems want higher taxes on e-cigarettes, cellphone bills, vacation homes, hospitals, cigarettes, hotel rooms, Uber, nonprescription drugs, and fantasy sports.

Even in deep blue Connecticut—one of just six states in the country where Democrats control both halves of the state legislature and the governor's mansion right now—the suggestion of a $1.8 billion tax increase has incited a political revolution.

Three Senate Democrats and five Democrats in the state House bailed on a plan to impose an array of new taxes, including a 75 percent wholesale tax on electronic cigarettes and other vaping products that likely would have killed dozens of small businesses in the state. The budget plan proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy also would have hiked taxes on cellphone bills, vacation homes, hospitals, cigarettes, hotel rooms, ride-sharing services, nonprescription drugs, and fantasy sports gaming, the Hartford Courant reported.

Coming on the heels of two of the largest tax increases in state history—lawmakers raised taxes by $1.5 billion in 2011 and then hiked them by another $1.2 billion in 2015—seems to have been too much to ask.

"How do you come out with a multi-page budget with all these tax increases and keep it secret from your membership and expect you're going to get everybody in line in a couple of hours? It's a ludicrous thought," Senate Republican leader Len Fasano, R-New Haven, told the Courant. "People are tired of taxing."

He seems to be right. Republicans, long in the minority in the Connecticut legislature, have made big gains in recent years by opposing tax increases in Hartford. Last week's drama seems to suggest that state lawmakers, too, are getting tired of taxing, or at least are getting tired of the political consequences of it.

"Yes, I may be risking my political career," said state Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, on Friday, announcing his intention to vote against the Democratic budget plan. "My party may not be happy with me. But to be honest, I don't care."

If it were true that a state could tax its way to prosperity, Connecticut should be on a non-stop winning streak. Instead, state lawmakers are battling a $3.5 billion deficit. Companies including General Electric, Aetna, and Alexion, a major pharmaceutical firm, have left the state in search of a lower tax burden. Connecticut is looking increasingly like the Illinois of New England: A place where tax increases are no longer fiscally or politically realistic, even though budgetary obligations continue to grow and spending is completely out of control. In fact, on a per capita level, Connecticut extracts more—about a thousand dollars more—from its residents than Illinois does, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's data on state taxes.

The Republican budget plan, which passed the state Senate Friday with those three Democratic defections, relies on a mix of common sense changes and some wishful thinking. It would impose a 10 percent cut on some state government budgets, would impose a hiring freeze for many state government positions, and would cut funding for higher education. Much of the savings would be bankrolled by future changes to public sector workers' pension benefits, hardly a political certainty. [Update: The budget bill cleared the lower chamber with a 77-73 vote Saturday.]

The GOP plan makes "makes important structural changes," said Carol Platt Liebau, president of the Yankee Institute, a free market think tank based in the state, who applauded the three Democrats who broke ranks to support the Republican budget. "We echo their sentiments that Connecticut deserves a budget that makes the changes necessary to put Connecticut on a better path."

Malloy says he will veto the budget if it reaches his desk, according to the Associated Press.
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Old 09-22-2017, 05:42 PM
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http://www.espn.com/womens-college-b.../_/id/20784596

Quote:
Geno Auriemma offers to forgo pay in education budget battle

STORRS, Conn. -- Hall of Fame basketball coach Geno Auriemma has waded into Connecticut's budget battle, offering to go unpaid next year in response to criticism over high salaries at UConn.

Auriemma is slated to make more than $2 million next year. He offered to forgo his pay after reading comments from a lawmaker who justified cuts by saying that a lot of people at UConn make a lot of money.

"I'll tell you what. I'll work for free next year," Auriemma told the Hartford Courant. "I'll give up what the state pays me, what the taxpayers are paying me, but guess what? I pay my taxes and I don't care how much money it costs for me to have good schools where I live in Manchester. My [adult] kids don't go to school there. I can afford it. I want to be proud of our town's education system. Why is it that older people turn their back on education when somebody paid for their kids when they were in school? We've lost sight of what we have to do for other people."

Connecticut still has no state budget, more than two months into the fiscal year, and Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, has vowed to veto a Republican-backed budget passed by the Legislature, in part because it contains large cuts to UConn.

....
"I do not want to come across as someone who doesn't understand what the realities are," Auriemma told the paper. "Not unlike a lot of states, Connecticut is facing real issues of how to pay its obligations. Some people are going to get hurt. I don't know if anyone is going to get helped. This is like a family issue. Everybody is going to have to suffer a little bit.

"You try to be fair to everyone, real about what your priorities are and don't let politics get in the way. Whether it's the politics of UConn lobbying for its benefit or one party or another -- one's in favor, one's against -- and then it's less about the issue and more about who's going to be right and who's going to be wrong."

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