From: New Fairfield Citizen-News
Op/Ed By Rep. Jan Giegler
We Just Can’t Take It Anymore
Why I Continue to Fight for a No Tax Increase Budget
There’s an old saying: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”. This saying is particularly true when it comes to the relationship between the state budget and job growth, or lack thereof, in Connecticut.
For twenty years, job growth in Connecticut has almost entirely consisted of adding employees to the government payroll rather than any gains in private sector employment. In fact, it has been since 1989 that Connecticut made a single net addition of a job to our economy that did not rely on taxpayer dollars.
It isn’t hard to see why our economy is stagnating. During this same twenty year period, we’ve seen an income tax instituted and business taxes repeatedly raised to the point that Connecticut is now the most highly taxed state in the U.S. Connecticut is considered by almost any non-partisan group’s measurement among the least friendly places in America to do business. Thus, few employers wish to relocate here, few can afford to add to their payrolls, and many have headed for the borders or simply closed up shop.
The link between high taxes and stagnating job growth is a well-established principle of basic economics, and proven by Connecticut’s own experience. And it is precisely why my Republican colleagues and I continue to fight for a state budget that does not increase taxes.
With too many Connecticut citizens having lost their jobs in the current recession, our budget proposal is about saving and creating jobs. It is a budget that recognizes that at a time of high unemployment, raising taxes on businesses and investors critical to the growth of those businesses will only result in more people losing their jobs. While proponents of tax increases frame their argument as only taxing “the rich” or “big corporations”, they miss the point. Love them or hate them, those groups are the ones that employ and sign paychecks for hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents. Every additional dollar that government takes away from employers (most of whom are not large, by the way) is a dollar that businesses will look to save elsewhere. Those savings will be found by reducing staff salaries and benefits and worse, layoffs.
We know this is true because it has been happening for twenty years in Connecticut.
There is a legitimate need to help the most vulnerable among us, and that is why the budget alternative I have joined in proposing maintains generous levels of funding for critical social services: mental health, ConnPace, Husky, AIDS prevention and treatment, state aid for education, and a variety of other programs. What our budget does cut are non-critical programs that are nice to have but unaffordable in our current economy. Despite a population growth of only 6% since 1988, the state budget has grown by 270%. Surely, government can do without at least some of that in the name of creating jobs.
The only way out of our current economic downturn is to put people back to work. To raise taxes on employers at a time when we desperately need them to add to their payrolls is, on its face, bad public policy. Yet proposals to increase taxes are made even more foolish because our state has been a proof of the negative impact of higher taxes on the job market for so long.
Nobody is happy that the state budget is late, least of all me. But more important than passing a budget on time is passing a budget that will help, not hinder, our economic recovery. That is why I will not support a budget that is balanced at the expense of jobs.
We cannot be content simply to get it done. We must also get the budget right.
It’s not about ideology or partisanship. I continue to fight for a budget without tax increases because Connecticut cannot continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Our economy just can’t take it anymore.
State Representative Janice R. Giegler (R-138th) represents Danbury and New Fairfield in the General Assembly.