FIRST DAY FESTIVITIES
When the General Assembly reconvenes on Feb. 8, local lawmakers plan to mark the day with more simplicity than spectacle.
“I’ve nothing planned so far for Opening Day,” said . “I usually bring several friends and family members up, but this year have been busy with projects and work in the home district so I need to think about that in the coming days.”
, said she plans to attend breakfast caucus and then will adjourn for lunch afterwards.
“As for Opening Day, this will be my 14th, but it still remains very exciting and humbling to begin a new year of service to my constituents and state,” said state Rep. TR Rowe, a Republican representing in the 123rd House District. “I've saved all my opening day tickets and display them proudly in my office, and will have another one to add on the 8th.”
State Rep. Chris Perone, a Democrat representing Norwalk and 137th in House District doesn’t have anything special planned. Although he will keep the opening day handouts and any good luck messages he receives.
“It is a day where everyone seems to be one entity and the clock sort of resets for the day,” Perone said.
STATE OF THE UNION CONCESSIONS
Connecticut's financial problems will likely extend beyond the current biennium's projected deficits, said local lawmakers.
Fred Carstensen, Director for the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at UConn said he doesn't think the April 2011 consensus revenue forecast from the Office of Fiscal Analysis and the Office of Policy Management is correct. That forecast says revenue, under the tax structure, should improve 5.1% FY 2012-2013.
“That seems highly unlikely as it relies on rapid economic growth of the same magnitude. Growth is unlikely to be more than 2 or 2.5 percent—which can not credibly generate 5.1 percent growth in revenue,” Carstensen said. “Moreover, Wall Street is shifting to more salary, less bonus, which means that those living in Connecticut but working in New York City will have less non-wage income on which to pay tax in Connecticut. So I anticipate revenues will be significantly lower than OFA/OPM projections, and that the budget will therefore slide back into deficit--as is now projected for FY 2012. FY 2013 will be significantly worse.”
Local lawmakers weighed in on how the state should deal with the economic situation.
, said she wants the unions to sit back down at the negotiating table. She said though a deal was reached last session, there are ways to get them to renegotiate, starting with asking them to come on good faith.
Carstensen doesn’t expect that to happen, but he does expect changes in the budget nonetheless.
“I doubt there would be any renegotiation. It does mean there will be probably be more budget adjustments,” Carstensen said. “The unknown is how quickly the major bonded capital projects will kick into the revenue stream. The busway and Bioscience/Jackson labs will both boost tax revenue in the short term.”
While Camillo said the state’s public sector workforce must be reduced, he isn’t directly calling for a renegotiation.
“My issue with it is this: Guaranteeing jobs for several years, plus giving an almost 10 percent raise within the next four to five years is a bit much when private sectors workers have no guarantees nor does the small business person who risks much if not all of his or her personal savings to go into business,” he said.
Going into the next session, Perone said everything must be considered, whether it’s asking the unions to renegotiate, or cutting more spending. Also, Perone said it's important to take a macro look at the issue in that much of what happens in Connecticut is tied to what happens nationally, and by extension what happens in Europe.
“I’m completely cognizant that we’re not out of the woods yet,” Perone said.
Lavielle said the state’s are a huge problem.
They “alone total more than $70 billion, and they are less than 50 percent funded,” she said, adding “the current year's deficit, estimated now at about $145 million, may well be only the tip of the iceberg.”
“Connecticut’s ability to collect all the revenues planned for in this biennial budget, which included a record-setting tax increase, is very uncertain, and may be severely limited, since the state is so dependent on the taxes from investment income,” she said. “The state simply cannot verify about half of the $1.6 billion in savings that were listed as part of the union concessions package. (For example, $180 million over two years that is to come from ideas in an employee suggestion box.”
Last week the Connecticut Democratic Party sent a press release calling out Fourth District congressional candidates Chris Meek and Steve Obsitnik for not yet filing compulsory personal financial disclosure forms.
“Either these guys think the rules don’t apply to them, or they are hiding something from us,” said Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo. “If we can’t trust them to turn in a few bank statements on time, we certainly can’t trust them to put the interests of Connecticut citizens first.”
Meek and Obsitnik are challenging Democratic incumbent
While the two reported their fundraising numbers they haven’t yet reported filed their disclosure forms as required by The House Committee on Ethics. The committee requires candidates for U.S. House of Representatives to file a personal financial disclosure within 30 days of becoming a candidate for Congress if that candidate officially becomes a candidate in a non-election year.
The Meek campaign raised $230,000 in the 4th quarter. Obsitnik's campaign has so far raised more than $250,000. Neither Meek nor Obsitnik could be reached for comment.
According to the CT Democratic Party Obsitnik’s announcement that he raised $250,000 demonstrates that he was officially a candidate in 2011. Meek officially announced his candidacy via telephone town hall in mid-November.
About this column: Posted every Monday morning, "Capitol DisPatch: CT" examines the bills, issues and activities facing Fairfield County's representatives in the Connecticut General Assembly in Hartford. Related Topics: Chris Perone, Fred Camillo, Gail Lavielle, General Assembly, Jim Himes, State Government, and Toni Boucher