Saturday, February 24, 2018

Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development Failures

Connecticut has a massive amount of economic problems.  One of the biggest problems it has is its poor economic environment for business and industry.  A great deal of business and industry has moved out of the state since the state income tax was enacted. More businesses have moved out since Connecticut has one of the worse infrastructures in the country, highest workers compensation costs in the country, regressive anti business worker laws that include a high minimum wage along with ridiculous labor laws that in many cases entrap the remaining businesses in the state.  I will also point out that Connecticut also has one of the highest Unemployment Compensation taxes that it charges its businesses along with having one of the highest unemployment rates in the region at 4.5% compared to the national average of 3.9%.  Connecticut still has yet to come out of its recession if it is compared to the other New England states especially when looking at Massachusetts and its unemployment rate of 3.7%.
Connecticut has a Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) that using taxpayer funded state bonds along with taxpayers monies budgeted to supposedly invest in existing Connecticut business and attract new businesses to the state to help create jobs and tax revenues.  If one examines the DECD public annual report they would shocked to see how much is being spent with in my opinion poor results as far as job creation.  Their annual report is one of the most complex pieces of economic literature that I have tried to read in a long time.  For Fiscal year 2016-17 the state allocated a mere $382,704,969.99 to their budget.  Some of the companies that have received credits and taxpayers monies include Bob's Furniture Stores, ESPN and Irish airline Aer Lingus.
In the last information I could find on the finances of Bob's Furniture Stores who is owned by Bain Capital (Bain manages $75 billion dollars worth of businesses worldwide) their sales were somewhere between $900,000,000 to $1,000,000,000 nationwide.  The DECD awarded Bob's a $11,000,000 Urban and Industrial site Reinvestment Tax Credit in 2016.  I can not figure out what type and or how many jobs may have been created for this $11,000,000.   Lowes Home Centers  have received $15,944,575 in credits since 2004.  ESPN (who is laying off many employees) has received $10,000,000. in credits since 2014. 
All of this data in credits can be obtained from the DECD annual report
Thus we live in a state that no matter what cost per job is the state will pay it.  One could also argue that the state has wasted an enormous amount of taxpayer's monies paying out these amounts and it really has done little to stimulate Connecticut's economy.
This week brought news that Connecticut Taxpayers's will subsidize Irish airline Aer Lingus a mere $4.5 million dollars for flying out of Bradley Airport since their target passenger goals were not met according to their agreement with the state.  Irish airline Aer Lingus has revenues of $1.86 billion euros and saw a 15% increase in their profits by $269 million euros last year.
I wonder if there is any oversight to the failures of Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development.  For example the individuals who negotiated the Aer Lingus deal?  Why isn't Commissioner Catherine Smith held accountable for any of this?  After all she earned in salaries and fringe benefits in the last fiscal year $213,340.40.  according to the CT Transparency website.
Connecticut state government really does not get much right does it?  And as usual Connecticut Taxpayers pay the bill for this corporate welfare.  Remember that next time you watch ESPN, buy furniture at Bob's or fly Aer Lingus.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

SEBAC 2017-Ten More Long Hard Years For Connecticut Taxpayers

It is sort of like a prison term for those remaining legal taxpaying citizens of Connecticut.  Ten more long hard years of unbalanced budgets, more and higher taxes, more and higher short and long term debt.  It is the SEBAC 2017 agreement which was negotiated behind closed doors between the omnipotent Connecticut SEBAC Labor Union and pro Union Democrat Governor Malloy that should help bankrupt the state over the next four years.  An analysis by Conservative Republican State Senator Len Suzio of Meriden and confirmed by the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) shows a much bleaker side of this union agreement.
Let us look at the supposed savings in wages for the next four years.  The first two years of the agreement there are no wage increases. The state union employees will pay a 1% increase in their health care premiums over a three period raising their premiums from 12% to 15%.  The state still pays the rest of the ever increasing health care premium.  They will also increase their contribution rates to their pensions ending up paying a mere 2 to 4% in the third year of their agreement for their over generous and economically unsustainable pensions.  Union employees have to take three unpaid furlough days that may average a loss of $850 per employee that first year only. That is the end of their "concessions".  However there are "step increases" which are regular annual wage increases for every full-time employee that average 3% each year that are guaranteed.  Even though these increases are suspended for the first two years they increase on average between 6-7% in year 3 of the agreement and 13-14%. in year 4 of the agreement.  However the second year of the agreement each union employee gets a $2000 to $2850 one time payment obviously to make up for the the two year wage freeze and the three unpaid furlough days.  There are also annual longevity payments (I have never received one in any job that I have had since I started working many years ago, have any of my readers received one?) that are paid to state union employees with 10 to 15 years of service, they receive $1,000 each year and those with more than 15 years get $2,000 each year.  This agreement continues through the first two years of the supposed wage freeze thus the state still pays this money out. According to the analysis of the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) a union employee who earned $74,000 in the first year of the agreement will earn $84,000 by the fourth year of the agreement due to the step and wage increases.  How much was given back by the union employees?  In my analysis around $1000 at the most given all the wage increase and payments made during this four year period (an average of $250 per year).  Thus the $10,000 average salary increase adds a mere half-billion dollars to the state payroll over the coming years.  How is this wage agreement saving any taxpayers monies in the next four years?  It is impossible because the other part of this secret agreement is that there can not be any union employee layoffs over the next four years. 
Why is this agreement not the central focus of the Gubernatorial campaign?  Why was this agreement not voted upon by the State Legislature?  Connecticut State Employee Unions own the state government.  It is legal collusion in its purest sense that helps to continue the further economic decline of Connecticut's economy.  Connecticut Taxpayers and Legal Connecticut Voters need to wake up to this embarrassment that is our state government in this upcoming state election.  This supposed money saving agreement secretly negotiated between the Connecticut Democrat Party and SEBAC is a farce.  There is no credibility as far as I am concerned in our state government.  And the remaining legal Connecticut Taxpayers continue to be economically raped by the ruling political elite and corresponding state employee labor unions through agreements like this.  Enough is enough.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Connecticut's Lack Of Fairness To Its Remaining Taxpayers

In his last State of the Union address, Governor Dan Malloy embarked upon a typical liberal Connecticut Democrat progressive and utopian vision of tolls everywhere, much higher and new taxes along with the same rhetoric of affordable mandated health care, higher minimum wages along with a much lengthier paid family leave law.  He threw in the usual cuts in municipal aid to "wealthier" towns to give more more money to the Democrat run economically failing cities such as Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.  The broken down XL Center gets yet more money to prop it open.  He harped on these liberal concepts as part of a "Connecticut Fairness" plan which ties in with the Connecticut Democrat Party plan of a "Values Agenda" (whatever that may be). Not a word was mentioned in his speech about the budget deficits nor the massive amount of short and long term debt along with unfunded liabilities the state has in 2018.
Malloy thus has spent both terms as Governor raising taxes and forcing an even more failed liberal agenda upon the remaining Connecticut Taxpayers left in the state.  Does he realize how bad the state's economy is and that we are still yet out of the recession?`
But the question must be asked after listening to this speech is "How is this budget fair to Connecticut Taxpayers?" In my analysis all this new budget does is once again raises taxes, makes driving in Connecticut especially expensive with a seven cent increase in the gas tax tax along with congestion price tolls on all highways and secondary roads in the state and expands taxes elsewhere.  The new budget keeps up social welfare programs for those in the state here illegally along with a much higher minimum wage (which will eliminate more jobs in the state).  Why does "Fairness" apply in this budget only to those who are politically connected such as state labor unions, the ruling political hierarchy and those here in the state illegally?  What happened to "Fairness" to those who are legal citizens of the state and pay an excessive amount of state taxes to live here?  Are they not entitled to any benefits of state government?  And how has this Connecticut Democrat Party liberal agenda worked so far in the state since the Malloy Administration began in 2011?  Haven't we seen an enormous amount of businesses and citizens move out of the state since 2011?  How many tax increases has the state had? Why is the short and long term debt along with unfunded liabilities of the state now $60 to $80 billion dollars, a massive increase since 2011?  What is the plan to pay off this debt? 
Fairness does not exist in the Connecticut Democrat Party in 2018.  This budget is a cesspool of higher taxes and failed programs that can only further the economic decline of the state.  It is economic garbage.  Yet this is the liberal agenda that the Connecticut Democrat Party will be running upon throughout the state in the upcoming elections this November.  And this why all Democrats need to be voted out of office on election day from top to bottom.  Dan Malloy's policies have failed completely since 2011.  The Connecticut Democrat Party's policies have failed completely since 2011.   Enough is enough.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Connecticut's Government Lacks Exceptionalism

Exceptionalism is defined as "the condition of being different from the norm; also : a theory expounding the exceptionalism especially of a nation or region."  Connecticut's government lacks exceptionalism.  If anything Connecticut's government is a mediocre self serving instrument of those individuals and groups that have political connections to those in power in Hartford.  Its only concern is to nurture and develop what has failed in the past only to be restated as the new better idea even though that same idea has meet with disaster in the past.
Tolls and higher taxes are the new in words for failed Governor Malloy this week.  Further proving our state government's lack of exceptionalism we are now going to turn to tolls on our state roads in the theory that some out-of-state drivers will pay for these tolls(even though reports and studies indicate 70% of the tolls will be paid for by state drivers) and higher gas taxes.  One could argue that Connecticut drivers pay an extraordinary amount of taxes for the privilege of driving on Connecticut's horrific road and bridge system.   For example drivers pay already pay 39.3 cents per gallon in a state gas tax, a fee to buy their drivers license, a tax to register their vehicles each year, the already enacted state tire fee when one buys a new tire, and the property taxes that you must pay when you own a vehicle.  This new toll revenue will supposedly be directed to improve and maintain our road and transportation system in the state.  I wonder where all the revenues goes from the various taxes drivers pay already?  Obviously not to road and bridge repair and maintenance.
Connecticut's government lacks exceptionalism especially when we have had already the two largest tax increases in the states history during the failed Malloy Administration.  Connecticut's government lacks exceptionalism especially when most state agencies when asked by the states budget director what recommendations could be made to cut spending in their agencies replied by suggesting nothing or failed to reply at all, while some recommended increasing spending instead.  To me this proves that these highly paid state agency directors are clueless in both running their agencies and in understanding the magnitude of Connecticut's budget crisis.  Not one of them was willing to take a pay or benefit cut to help the state.  In private industry these same people would be fired for their lack of action and ineptness in management.
The Connecticut state budget crisis continues unabated.  We hear the same rhetoric of some sort of new tax and or fee placed on Connecticut Taxpayers will solve the same problems that have yet to have been solved with all of the taxes and fees the state has already.  Silence is heard when wanting to examine and address both management and union salaries, benefits and pensions.  This sacred and cherished part of our state government fully funded by Connecticut Taxpayers may never be spoken of and or reformed.   
Yes, Connecticut's Government lacks exceptionalism.  And yes it has failed Connecticut Taxpayers.  New taxes and tolls help to advance the Connecticut Democrat Party agenda of a failed economy but continues to protect those who own this rigged system of government.