February 13, 2007

Jodi Rell Loses It, and It Will Be Connecticut’s Loss

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:10 pm

Monday’s subscription-only editorial in the Wall Street Journal tells the sad tale:

After hiding her intentions during last year’s campaign, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell wants to thank constituents for electing her with 63% of the vote by socking them with a 10% hike in the personal income tax rate. Fellow Republicans in the state legislature are understandably scratching their heads. But the proposal has no doubt also left many taxpayers wondering why they even bother to pull the lever for Republicans.

Ms. Rell dropped this bombshell last week when she presented her biennial budget. In addition to the income tax increase, which would push the top marginal rate to 5.5% from the current 5% over two years, the Governor also proposes increasing cigarette taxes, hiking bus fares and phasing out a $500 property tax credit.

Democrats, who control both houses of the legislature, welcome the plan. So does much of the state’s liberal media, who are hailing Ms. Rell as “brave” and “courageous.” But as Susan Kniep of the Federation of Connecticut Taxpayer Organizations put it to the Associated Press, “Gee, why didn’t we kind of hear about this before we went into the polls?”

Governor Rell says a tax increase is necessary to fund more education spending. But Connecticut already spends more money per student on public schools than all but three states.

….. The larger danger of a tax increase is its impact on the state’s overall economy. Connecticut adopted its income tax in 1991, and it has since ranked last nationally in employment growth while losing tens of thousands of people to other states. Increasing the income tax rate seems an odd way to reverse these trends.

….. By the way, it’s not as if Connecticut taxpayers haven’t been doing their part; the state will end the current fiscal year with a $600 million revenue surplus. The problem is that the politicians want to spend the money faster than it comes in. Governor Rell’s budget would grow government by nearly 13% over two years and bust constitutional spending caps approved by 81% of voters back in 1992. No wonder she kept her plans secret until after the election.

If Connecticut voters wanted tax-and-spend, they would have voted the straight Democrat ticket (13% in two years? I don’t think even Bob Taft was that bad). Rell’s betrayal is disgraceful, and may deliver the Nutmeg State’s governor’s mansion to the other party for decades. No wonder the liberal media there love her.

New England has had an interesting habit of electing many GOP governors to be the designated adult in charge (e.g., Mitt Romney and his Massachusetts predecessors; George Pataki in New York, and the current governors of Rhode Island and Vermont), supposedly making sure that their far-left legislatures don’t get too out of control. With Pataki and Rell, at least, all you can say is “So much for that strategy.”

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6 Comments

  1. Hey Tom – I came over here to thank you for your great comment in the globalarm-thing post but that I’m on deadline and can’t respond yet – and I saw this when I arrived! MY PARENTS ARE GOING TO HAVE A COW!!!!!!!!!!! They did everything to move their residence to FL last yaer and then reverted it all back to CT because they just like being in CT a bit more time of the year. Wow – I’m sure my very liberal Dad is going to have quite the screed for me the next time we talk.

    As for CT and its GOPpers, be fair now – Lowell Weicker barely counts. And there’s our federal criminal Rowland. So – come now – who do you really have in mind?

    Last – as someone who grew up in CT, lived there in 85-88 and never resided there with a personal income tax, I have to tell you – what she’s doing is an affront to the natives – I’m certain that’s how my folks will respond.

    As for the schools, it is all true – those public schools have ranked in the top of the country for literally decades – I know CT was #2 a lot of the time when I was in public school there (all K-12 in CT’s publics).

    Wow. Well – thanks for posting this.

    What do you really think is going on??

    Comment by Jill — February 13, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

  2. #1, From my experience covering Kelo and learning a bit about CT (not enough to really know, don’t get me wrong), I get the impression that government in general in the state is VERY top-heavy with admin types, AND also very expensive with the rank and file employees largely unionized (teachers, cops, etc.). That is a lethal combination. This seemed to be the case in New London, which after all is not a very big place, yet it seems like it has big city-like governmental structure.

    I think that situation, and the state’s de-industrialization without a lot coming in behind it (hastened by the advent of the income tax, IMO), have left a very difficult situation that cries out for aggressive tax-cutting, bureaucracy-shedding, and business developmetn. Instead it’s gone the opposite way.

    Rell just gave in to what she must have chosen to see as the inevitable, but she could not be more wrong. What will happen is that more people like your parents who have a choice (this would also include singles and young marrieds who haven’t established their kids in school yet, empty nesters, and many others) will do something I have been harping on for well over a year — they will think about voting with their feet (i.e., in your parents’ case, reverse the move to CT and seriously consider going back to FL). That’s the same horrid spiral that Ohio is enduring to an extent, but CT’s may turn into a stampede.

    I’m guessing that the FL sunshine looks even more attractive right about now.

    Comment by TBlumer — February 13, 2007 @ 4:17 pm

  3. I’ve forwarded this to my folks and told my mom about it on the phone today, as they’d just returned from three weeks in FL back to snowy CT and didn’t know about the proposal. I’m certain, however, that they did not vote for Rell under any circumstances, though they did vote for Lieberman (THOUGH they voted for Lamont in the primary – if you read my blog during those months, I wrote about why it all went this way and that for them – my hometown having been the only one of the top 26 in income in the state to go for Lieberman, why? because it’s got a high percentage of Republicans AND Jews).

    Anyway – I’m certain my dad will have a lot to say about this – I hope he reads your comment here. He started his own business when he was in his early 30s and his primary customer throughout the business’s heyday? The State of Connecticut. :) He’s done fundraisers for all the Dems over the years, and, yes, Lieberman – BUT IN HIS EARLY YEARS, not in a very very long time. You would get a big kick out of bantering with my dad. He loves talking about this stuff – and is extremely knowledgeable.

    Comment by Jill — February 13, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

  4. #3 Jill, hope he pitches in here.

    Comment by TBlumer — February 13, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

  5. Why is it the media only describes Republicans as “brave” and “courageous” when they are doing something stupid?

    Comment by largebill — February 14, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

  6. #5, because they want to make the stupid Republican feel good about himself — until the next election.

    Comment by TBlumer — February 14, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

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