For the editor:
Mark Twain once wrote, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth puts on its shoes.” Connecticut Republicans are hoping their lies about Connecticut’s fiscal and economic status are far enough along on Election Day that the truth can’t catch up.
Speaking of lies, GOP state senator Ryan Fazio claimed in an op-ed that “the federal government has reported that Connecticut’s economy has shrunk at the second-fastest rate in the nation and that our rate of growth personal income was the worst in the country. .” It conveniently omits that the “decline” was a preliminary estimate for the past three months only. In fact, over the previous three months, Connecticut’s economy grew at a healthy 5.5%, the second strongest of any state. Over the past year, Connecticut has recorded 1.7% economic growth, among the top half of all states.
Far-right GOP State Rep. Kimberly Fiorello claimed that “our state continues to spend and borrow with no apparent care for what we are doing to ourselves and placing a burden on future citizens.” Fake. During their sixteen years in the governor’s mansion, Republican Governors John Rowland and Jodi Rell increased state spending at an annual rate of 4.45%. In contrast, Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy only increased spending 2.2% per year during his eight-year tenure, while Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont passed budgets that only increased spending. 3.38% per year over the past four years. The FY23 budget was revised upward due to a substantial influx of federal funds, but not by raising state taxes. Thus, the evidence shows that Democrats have maintained significantly lower spending increases than Republicans.
Fiorello cites the conservative Tax Foundation to say that Connecticut’s per capita “taxes” are the highest, or near the highest, in the country. This is grossly misleading. First, “taxes” represent only a part of the revenues collected by the States. According to a 2018 essay by Bill Cibes, former Secretary of Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management (OPM), “Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Connecticut’s share of total ‘own-source revenue ” from state/local sources that come from non-tax sources are the LOWEST in the nation. While the fifty-state average was 31% of “own source revenue” from royalties and other charges, Connecticut’s n was only 16%. Cibes cites numerous authoritative analyses, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, that “Connecticut’s share of Connecticut’s economic resources that is paid by its residents to the state government/ local for the services these governments provide, ranks Connecticut among the lowest in the nation.”
The state’s low spending relative to revenue is confirmed by a 2019 USA Today analysis that ranked Connecticut the 10th least-staffed government in the nation based on total state government employees. / premises by population. Indeed, USA Today estimated that over the past decade, Connecticut has reduced the number of government employees by the second highest rate of any state in the country. Government downsizing continues under Governor Ned Lamont, with nearly 5,000 state employees retiring this year, more than double the usual number. In fact, the latest data from the Department of Labor shows Connecticut’s public sector employment is smaller than at any time since 1995.
While restraining spending, Lamont significantly replenished the state’s “rainy day fund,” which Republican Gov. Jodi Rell emptied upon leaving office. At $3.3 billion, Connecticut’s cash reserves are nearly five times larger than they have ever been, and at 15% of the operating budget, the largest in the nation. Over the past twelve years, Lamont and Malloy have also repaired and reformed state pension funds after the near collapse left behind by Rowland-Rell. Not only did Governor Lamont fully fund the required annual pension contributions each year, but he also made additional contributions totaling $5.8 billion, which the OPM says reduces future annual contributions by $440 million. dollars. Additionally, the OPM estimates that Connecticut’s ratio of unfunded pension liabilities to personal state income is now close to the national average.
What about Fiorello’s assertion that “borrowing seemingly without regard to what we are doing to ourselves and burdening future citizens”? Fake. In fact, according to the OPM’s 2021 Fiscal Responsibility Report, Connecticut has steadily cut bond issuance since 2015, under Democratic Governors Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont. Indeed, under Lamont’s “debt regime”, the issuance of Connecticut general bonds in 2021 totaled only 43% of the amount issued in 2015. This sharp reduction in debt issuance has leads the state to repay 70% of its general obligation debt in full. over the next decade. Far from “continuing to borrow” regardless of future citizens, evidence shows that Democratic governors and the Democratic legislature have been diligently cutting borrowing for years.
Republican lies about Connecticut’s economic and fiscal realities have been given a big head start. But the truth has its shoes on now, and it’s catching up fast.