Connecticut’s crisis has been building for decades. Twenty years ago, a governor who has served two terms in prison and the bosses of the Connecticut public employee unions, made a deal for pensions and health benefits that was great for them, but terrible for Connecticut. They committed taxpayers to payments we could not make, with money we did not have.
When Governor Malloy came to office, he could have confronted the growing problem for retiree benefits. Instead, he doubled down, extending this deal two more times, most recently this past summer for an incredible ten more years. To try to pay for it, Malloy has raised taxes again and again, including the two largest tax increases in Connecticut’s history.
The results have been devastating for our families and our jobs. Our parents and grandparents are leaving because they cannot afford the high taxes and cost of living. Our children are leaving because they cannot find a job. Our business environment is so bad that General Electric’s logo is now on the uniform of the Boston Celtics after leaving its home in Fairfield. Our economy is smaller and we have fewer jobs than we had in 2007 – a lost decade for Connecticut.
Our state is now in a death spiral. The combination of skyrocketing state employee retirement costs and a stagnant economy is toxic. We are facing massive $2-3 billion deficits per year with less than $20 billion of receipts. The annual contributions to employee retirement are projected to increase from $2 billion this year to over $7 billion in 2032. The numbers simply do not work.
The budget crisis of the past year indicates the horrible choices we will face if we do not change course: cuts to our towns that provide police and fire; cuts to education for our children; and cuts to the services for the neediest in our communities.