To the editor:
Our state is headed for a record $2 billion annual deficit. It’s a real fiscal crisis that’s so out of control, it’s crazy! As a taxpayer, I’m outraged. I read GE is leaving Connecticut. I see my friends moving out of state.
The “poster child” for extravagant run-away spending is public service union pensions with defined-benefit plans that far exceed comparable benefits in the private sector by a margin of +25 percent to +50 percent, per the Yankee Institute.
The annual dollar differential is sufficient, for example, to buy a new car for each of the 96,000 members of SERS (State Employee Retirement System) each year as a “bonus.” Comparable workers in the private sector with defined-contribution plans do not enjoy this privilege. It’s not fair to squander our tax dollars — and spin our state into a fiscal debt spiral.
How do we, as citizens, get the message to Hartford — to Governor Malloy and Senate Majority Leader Duff? How do we bring sanity back?
Take a road trip.
Last week, I drove to Hartford with friends to see our government in action. It was a surprisingly fun, historically interesting, informative, patriotic experience! In prep, I checked the Connecticut General Assembly website for what hearings might be of most interest, particularly those having to do with appropriations.
My state rep, Terrie Wood, was exceedingly helpful. The drive took a little over an hour from Darien. Parking was easy. With just a half-block walk, we were right at the Legislative Office Building where critical budget decisions are made.
We sat in on four sessions, listening as members from both sides of the aisle discussed budget and tax issues. For a public hearing, you can sign up right there, voice your opinion for three minutes and go on the record.
One meeting required some intestinal fortitude, given the extent of Connecticut’s fiscal troubles. Democrats on the Appropriations Committee, with Republicans in opposition, approved a >20 percent increase in pay over five years for UConn’s non-teaching staff. The state employee and teacher unions must stop raiding Connecticut’s coffers — they’re empty!
If you’re frustrated with the direction of our state government, take to the road. Go to Hartford. It’s a trip that can positively impact you and your family — and can actually make a difference. Imagine what would happen if we all showed up in Hartford, and voiced our combined outrage over the $2 billion deficit. I’d bet we could bring fiscal sanity back and make Connecticut a tax-friendly state again.
Enjoy the ride!
Robert “Spike” Reed