Budgetary train wreck!

It’s official. The budgetary process is a train wreck. At least in the hands of the slim Democratic majority that controls the House and Senate (in the latter case thanks only to the Democratic lieutenant governor’s ability to break an 18-18 split).

Connecticut faces at least a $3 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years, and that’s optimistic. This calls for difficult decisions. The Appropriations Committee, in charge of the purse strings, doesn’t want to make any.

After years of trying to protect municipalities from significant losses in state funding, despite the state’s continuing fiscal problems, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed a budget that shifts some of the pain to towns and cities. Under his plan, they would have to start sharing in the cost of funding teacher pensions. Wealthy communities would get less state aid for education.

The plan has its problems. Its deep cuts to Groton are unfair and disproportionate, as previously noted. But the plan Malloy put on the table in February does balance the budget, and without a sales or income tax increase.

But the Appropriations Committee appears to be in no mood to force towns to share one-third of the cost of teachers' pensions. And the budget it was evaluating Tuesday would continue sending more than $2 billion in education aid to municipalities in each of the next two years, with no cuts to wealthy towns.

With the state facing a huge deficit, the Appropriations Committee is moving towards increasing spending by 5.2 percent next fiscal year and by 1.8 percent in 2018-19, the Connecticut Mirror reported.

So how would the legislature balance the budget? With tax increases, of course, with the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee considering increases in both income and sales taxes. This would be sure to drive more high-income earners from the state and serve as a drag on the economy. It’s the wrong move.

A vote by Appropriations was expected Tuesday, but the budget process stalled and the committee recessed. It looks like the chairmen didn't have the votes. There may be hope yet.

It is time for your move, Republicans. Let’s see your plan to balance the budget without big tax hikes. Fiscally prudent Democrats may join you.

Someone has to pull this train wreck apart and get the state moving down the tracks again.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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