As the legislative session closed early this month, the governor and majority party pushed through another spend, tax and borrow budget while simultaneously ignoring the constitutional spending cap, GAAP and the “shared sacrifice” promises made two years ago. Once again, the new budget will support the public sector at the expense of the private sector.
This latest “government comes first” budget will increase the gas tax, extend the electric generation tax (which will again be passed along to consumers) and extend the corporate profits surcharge tax (which hurts profitability and hiring).
Meanwhile, the Democrats will take more than $100 million from the Special Transportation Fund — i.e., the “dedicated” fund derived from the gas tax to build roads and bridges — and create a new charge on our power bills intended to promote sustainable energy, and then take it to pay government expenses.
In 2011, the Democrats’ budget looked to $90 million in expected savings from an “employee suggestion box” along with some other alleged union savings that never materialized. This time they plan to grab what is left of the tobacco settlement monies (originally “dedicated” for anti-smoking programs) and look to projected receipts from newly approved keno lottery machines to balance the ledger. That’s right, we will leverage people’s smoking and gambling habits to pay for our government’s reckless spending habits.
In total, state spending will increase by almost 10%, and the state will borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for daily operations while simultaneously pushing old debt service into the future. At the same time, much of the state’s 50,000-plus workforce will receive raises on top of the four-year, no-lay-off contract they received in 2011.
This failure to control government spending is projected to land us back in a $600 million deficit in the fiscal year following the biennium budget.
The bottom line is the Democrats’ latest budget is good for the government class and bad for the working class. The private sector will continue to be cannibalized by our government’s reckless spend, tax and borrow fiscal policies, and our lagging economy is bitter proof that the Democrats’ fiscal plans have not and will not work. Regrettably, the new budget stands as a sad and shameful ending to a session that otherwise saw passage of some laudable public policy initiatives.
Rep. Shaban represents the communities of Easton, Redding and Weston in the 135th House District.