By: Rep. Lawrence Miller, Connecticut Post
December 3, 2009
That didn’t take long.
No sooner had Governor Rell released her latest deficit mitigation plan, designed to correct the $624 million shortfall left by the atrocity of a budget passed by legislative Democrats, did the caterwauling begin from all manner of groups reliant on the government gravy train.
We hear cries about how this program or that agency has been “underfunded” for years, and how the mean-old-Governor’s latest round of budget cuts will eviscerate the people they serve. It seems that “shared sacrifice”, to those who receive funding from the state, means “shared among everyone but me”.
They’re likely to find allies among Legislative Democrats who set the agenda in Hartford and squelch all dissent with their supermajority numbers in the House and Senate. The General Assembly is run by among the most liberal, spendthrift, big-government partisans in the country.
Some programs have indeed been underfunded. Some vulnerable populations are, despite our best efforts, underserved by the helping hand of government. Many remain in need. None of this is pleasant. Unfortunately, in this economic climate, none of it matters either.
The state is broke and dipping further into the red every day. Taxpayers, the ones funding the services and programs now on the chopping block, are stretched thin to the point that revenues have dropped sharply even after the largest tax increase in Connecticut history was passed this year. Joblessness continues to rise, and those fortunate enough to have jobs are sacrificing heavily by taking salary cuts, forgoing raises, and working longer and harder hours.
The taxpayers have contributed more than their share of the burden in this time of economic crisis. It is now time for those doing the spending to pull their weight. That means a reduction in the size and cost of government. It means that for the first time since the introduction of the income tax in 1991, state government must spend less in the future than we have in the past.
To be sure, some services will out of necessity need to be curtailed- a painful consequence of the fact that government cannot be all things to all people all the time. However, let us not fall into the trap of assuming less money results in an equal reduction of services.
State government is laden with layer upon layer of needless offices and sub-agencies and bureaucracy that rob valuable resources from those who need them in the form of overhead and administrative costs. Eliminating these costs is essential to the long-term financial health of our state. Admittedly, it will mean more work for those civil servants who remain. However, those employed in the private sector are picking up the slack every single day- and without the extremely generous fringe benefits and pensions that are offered by state government.
As difficult, gut wrenching, and painful as it is to say “no” to things we’d like to have- failure to make difficult choices now carries a far greater consequence. If we do not bring the cost of state government back in line with the taxpayer’s ability to pay for it today, we will continue to lose jobs, hemorrhage revenue, and drown in debt in the future. If and when this happens, state government will be unable to help anybody at all.
State Representative Lawrence Miller (R-122nd) represents the towns of Shelton and Stratford in the General Assembly.