Friday, March 31, 2006

Democrats Reject Governor's Spending Plans

Short post. I'm working on a history of the 1970 campaign, hopefully out later today. It's a good thing I don't have to work on Fridays.

The appropriations committee passed the Democratic-sponsored budget yesterday. None of the governor's major spending priorities, including the creation of two new state departments or money to pay for the elimination of the car tax, were included.
Rejecting many of the governor's fiscal priorities, the legislature's Democratic-controlled budget committee Thursday approved a $16.16 billion spending plan that would pour $245 million into the public school teachers' pension fund and provide extra state money for municipalities.

The appropriations committee rejected virtually all of Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell's plans for spending the projected current-year surplus and dismissed several of her proposals to reorganize state government, including creating a new state department of energy.

Rell ripped the Democratic proposal, saying it is "extremely disappointing and, frankly, borders on the irresponsible" because lawmakers left "no room for tax cuts" and placed a paltry sum in the state's rainy day fund for fiscal emergencies. (Keating)
The fact that so little money was set aside for the rainy day fund is indeed disappointing, but better funding for the teachers' retirement fund is to be appluaded.

I don't think the car tax repeal is going to happen. Municipal leader, perhaps correctly, don't want it, and the Democrats are adament about opposing the governor.


Keating, Christopher. "Democrats Offer Different Budget." Hartford Courant 31 March, 2006.


disgruntled_republican said...

GC -

Guess its gonna be the budget. I have mixed emotions. I am glad that there was no car tax repeal and I think funding the teachers pension had to be done (I will stop short of calling it admirable) but there is too much pork in this thing but what else is new. I am glad they sent more money to municipalities and I pray that stays with the spike in energy costs (although I think our Town Leaders in Enfield have been sitting on their hands instead of seeking out grants for renewable enegy resources).
I too agree that there should have been more into the rainy day fund but there is only so much in the kitty. Long and short of it, disappointing in some respects, happy in others. I am more inclined to agree with the majority of the Dems proposal then Rell's but I also realize this thing is far from done and will merge both into one.

Those critical of me in the past should notew I am writing in a positive light of Dems. =)

turfgrrl said...

I'm disappointed to see nothing about the car tax repeal. I also think that while putting money into social services is worthy, Connecticut needs to prioritize it's transportation infrastructure spending, and neither budget does that.

bluecoat said...

disgrunteld: on the car tax repeal, I'd be happy to see it end and just have my real property taxes go up in place of it - I never saw this thing as any kind of releif.Then at least I could push locally to decrease the size of our assessor and tax collector offices.

But in any event, appropriations is not the final say on the repeal anyway - that comes out of the Finance Committee next week - it's a big bureacracy ere in CT eventhough our legislature is part time.

bluecoat said...

turrfgrrl: you were writing as i was posting. I have no problem with the social services thing but I have a big problem with the way CT delivers them - it's no longer rational if it ever was. We don't need DSS, DMR, DMHAS, DCF, etc. all having their myopic gigs going on - the consumers of these services get shuffled among agencies so there are advocacy groups getting funds just to help them nvigate the maize - it's part of our high cost government.

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Excellent editorial in the Connecticut Post on the grotesque Approps Budget, labeling it an "insult" to taxpayers -- which frankly is a milder word than could be used. It praises the idea of bolstering the teacher pension fund but asks, rightfully, "What world do these people live in?"

bluecoat said...

I wouldn't say the referenced CT Post editorial is excellent in any way. They offer no place to SAVE money and if you read their editorials on most any other day they more often than not support reckless spending projects that have no way of paying for themselves. They call themselves the CT Post but in fact, they are the Greater Bridgeport area TABLOID at best.

turfgrrl said...

I have to say I'm not at all familiar with all the state agencies and who they are supposed to serve. I do think that before you eliminate agencies though, you have to take a look at their administrative operating costs, and I don't mean labor.

The state could save money by doing some fairly non controversial things like reducing by 50% the number of photocopiers in every office of every department of every agency. Reduce paper consumption costs by 50% by promoting and encouraging the use of PDF's in lieu of print outs. Eliminate WIndows based operating systems and replace with a linux derivative for all administrative personnel. Eliminate every Microsoft exchange server used and replace with a contract to google to manage email services.

In short, empower department heads to execute tactics, instead of simply moving numbers around a spreadsheet and calling it a realistic budget. And identify spiraling operating costs and reduce them. More importantly I bet that given a chance, government employees have all sorts of ideas to reduce costs and improve service. Some may actually work, so why not let staff be part of the cost saving strategy instead of working off the spreadsheets?

I would hope that the state currently buys energy on overlapping expiring contracts as a hedge against volatile pricing, and negotiates commodity purchases on behalf of its agencies.

bluecoat said...

turffgrrl: agreed but simply overlaying new technology over a broken bureacracies instead of consolidating them and refocusing their mission doesn't fly with me but none of that matters because nobody in Hartford knows what either of us is talking about. And there was something in the WSJ yesterday about how GE and others are controlling/blocking their employees personal use of theri PC's - that could work in CT too but the legislative aides that post and monitor here on company time would be upset since they'd have to devlop policy or something like that.

turfgrrl said...

ROTFLOL -- yeah if they were smart, they'd be running out trial balloons of policy vectors if they couldn't muster up some policy points in the first place.

I should add, that I don't disagree with your point about consolidating the agencies necessarily, it's just that I don't know who is who and what is what in the alphabet soup of the departments, so what I suggested was the simple initial step that one can make to get costs down asap instead of more structural change. I've always found that if you want to turn around a company, you need the buy in of the employees and you can quickly get a handle of those that will work for change quickly by giving them an environment that they can help manage.

bluecoat said...

turffgrrl; absolutely agreed; the alphabet soup issue is about client services as many of these people in need have to get one serivce from one place and another somewhere else - and then we also fund not for profits that help the clients navigate the soup - the front line and the advocacy groups could help to sort this out rather quickly - and they have already made suggestions.

bluecoat said...

Just to finish the thought on the quality of the editoials at The CT Post, they may have a circulation problem because they are always throwing complimentary newspapers around town on people's driveways. The one today was courtesy of the GMC dealership in Milford but they have lots of sponsors even the local university at times. But I guess that is better than just delivering them to the dump as the New York Daily News reports that Alexander Hamilton's New York Post apparently did shown here in this story. I remember a few years back that the editor claimed in his Sunday lead commentary puff piece that the circulation for that edition was 250,000 when it was less than half of that according to its parent comapny info shown here and I even remeber after reading that they were bundling two newspapers together with a wrap and selling them for the price of one at the retail outlets on Sundays for a while. Desperate?

I wish the Norwalk Advocate or the New Haven Register would do a little more reporting from the greater Bridgeport area. At least their editors don't seem to be tied to supporting the local INCUMBENT PARTY in power as much as the sages of State Street, as they are known at the CT Post, do.

bluecoat said...

Those circulation numbers for the Media News Group/CT Post should be here as I screwed up again.

Anonymous said...

Consolidation of agencies will never happen! Uniions won't alow it!

bluecoat said...

Consolidation and rationalization of the agencies isn't about the unuions it is about the commissioners and the contracted agencies that benefit from the alphabet soup.

And in the latest lesson about why all of Rowland's cronies should be gone from state govt., the state will be paying 180,000 dollars to Alan PlofskybecauseConnecticut's Ex-Ethics Chief Must Be Rehired, Panel Says as reported here in today's NYT Metro Section

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Plofsky alienated his whole staff, caused his agency to be disbanded and reorganized and then gets his job back, A prime example of why department managers should not be treated like regular civil servants

bluecoat said...

His rights were violated; it has nothing to do with your nonsensical rant. If they wanted to terminate him for cause then they should have built a case.