Goldrick: Republicans Are Causing Chaos in Budget Process

Opinion submitted on Oct 10, 2017 by Sean Goldrick, who served two terms as a Democratic member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.  He lives in Riverside.

In his letter published last week in Greenwich Sentinel, Republican state senator Scott Frantz claims that Governor Malloy “created a whole lot of chaos” for Connecticut by his “knee-jerk veto” of the Republicans’ budget proposal.

In fact, it is Senator Frantz and his fellow Republicans who have caused the fiscal chaos in our state with their intransigence, proposals for illegally cutting salaries and benefits, and refusal to negotiate in good faith.

In fact, the General Assembly Republicans have acted throughout this budget process the same way they’ve acted everywhere in this country: They’ve utilized falsehoods, half-truths, and secrecy to obscure from the people just how ugly their policy proposals truly are.

They’ve obstructed every step of the way, refusing to compromise, and then they claim that the “chaos” they’ve caused is somehow the other side’s fault.

Senator Frantz asserts that the Republican budget proposal was “fully vetted by the Office of Fiscal Analysis.” It’s a good thing that he didn’t claim that the Republican proposal was fully vetted by the General Assembly, because not a single committee of the Connecticut legislature held a single minute of hearings on any Republican budget proposal.

Why? The first budget proposal from the Republican state representatives was only made public after committee hearings had ended for the session. That budget was immediately out of balance by a billion dollars. Republican state senators came out with their first budget proposal literally in the last few minutes of the last night of the legislative session. Democratic senators had virtually no time to read the Republican proposal, let alone try to understand it.

The latest Republican budget to which Senator Frantz refers in his letter wasn’t presented to the General Assembly in legislative form until debate on it had gone on for almost an hour. So the people of Connecticut certainly didn’t “fully vet” this Republican proposal, nor did the General Assembly.

While the Senate Republicans kept Democrats and the people of Connecticut the dark, their 1,000-page proposal was delivered to the Office of Fiscal Analysis. But balanced? Take a closer look.

The Republican budget proposal only “balances” if one believes that hundreds of millions of dollars that they require the Office of Policy and Management to find, which the Republicans themselves can’t find, are not a complete fantasy.

In reality, their budget is balanced with make-believe savings. Senator Frantz’s budget proposal is also “balanced” only if one pretends that the state’s teachers and public sector workers will not sue to protect their benefits and salaries just agreed to with Governor Malloy in a good-faith negotiation, which the Republicans propose slashing unilaterally. They will sue, and win, meaning that hundreds of millions of dollars the Republicans consider “savings” will not materialize.

And while Senator Frantz rightly points out that the budget proposal from his fellow Republicans won’t tax second homes in the state, or cell phone lines, and won’t zero-out ECS for wealthy communities, there’s a lot of ugliness and cruelty in his budget that he fails to mention.

Senator Frantz leaves out the fact that he and his fellow Republicans are eliminating the $37 million Roberta Willis Scholarship that helps 15,000 low-income Connecticut youth pay for college.

He leaves out that the Republican budget eliminates the Citizens Election Program, which has funded 90% of all races for the General Assembly, making Connecticut once again a state in which one has to “pay to play.”

He leaves out how he drastically cuts the earned income tax credit for low-income working families, including for 1,200 in Greenwich.

He leaves out the fact that he cuts a third of a billion dollars from the University of Connecticut, a cut that UConn chairman of the board of trustees Larry McHugh calls “probably the worst attack on public education I have seen.”

Yet Senator Frantz calls Governor Malloy’s veto of this all-out attack on union rights, on higher education, on the working poor, on low-income students, on our system of election fairness “knee-jerk”?

Last year Governor Malloy was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, the nation’s most prestigious award for public servants. For standing strong against Senator Frantz’s and his fellow Republicans’ cruel budget, Governor Malloy deserves to receive that award a second time.