We are not the first state to be in this position. Other states have had problems similar to ours and have fixed them. We can replicate the best ideas and solutions from around the country for Connecticut in order to get our spending under control and to start growing again.
How Other States Did It
Michigan faced challenges similar to ours after the financial crisis, including the bankruptcy of the auto industry. Career politicians tried to fix chronic budget crises and massive unfunded pension and health care benefits by raising taxes repeatedly, but succeeded only in driving away businesses and families, and bringing Detroit into bankruptcy.
Following a watershed election, an outsider businessman Governor brought people together to restructure retirement benefits, lower taxes and slash regulations. Today, Michigan has a balanced budget, some of the fastest job growth in manufacturing, and Detroit is growing again.
Washington State overcame a massive budget deficit by using Priority Based Budgeting to make smart choices and outsource services to the private sector at lower cost.
Massachusetts had some great schools, but they also had schools that were failing their children. Massachusetts raised standards and held everyone accountable and have made tremendous progress.
Balancing Our Budget
The first responsibility for the next Governor is to enact a balanced budget to restore confidence in our families and our businesses.
The only way to balance the budget is to restructure the agreement with our state employees so we can bring their retirement benefits in line with the private sector and cut the excessive cost of government. We will reach a fair settlement that protects taxpayers and creates a sustainable retirement program that state employees and their families can count on.
The only way the budget will stay balanced is to restore growth. The giant hole in our budget is in large part from receipts falling far short of projections. Receipts have fallen short because jobs and people have left in droves and taken their tax dollars with them. We need to stop the mass exodus out of our state and begin the flow back in.
Growth has been critical to restoring stability to Michigan’s budget and getting that state back on track. Cutting taxes and slashing burdensome regulations have been key ingredients of their not-so secret sauce. More on both and a whole lot more in the next part of our story – Back to the Future.