ZEZIMA: Kupchick’s recent op-ed on budget needs clarification

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor:

A recent Op-Ed by State Representative Brenda Kupchick regarding the budget passed on June 3 addresses several areas of concern. In the interest of clarification and further education of the public, several corrections need to be made.

Sikorsky is not closing a factory in Bridgeport due to state taxes. A decline in demand for helicopters to service offshore oilrigs along with declining oil prices and soft demand for international military products are the factors driving this business decision. In other words, the free market has spoken.

It is completely untrue that every other state has recovered from the recession except for CT. Our unemployment rate is not higher than the national average and has continued to drop to an average of 5.6%, with many towns well below this level. Fairfield stands at 4.7%. Older states like Connecticut have bigger bills to pay than younger states that don’t have large legacy costs, like 100 plus year old bridges. Others enjoy tax revenue from natural resources. Comparing us to other states requires thoughtful analysis.

Our current fiscal crisis has been many years in the making. Former Governor Jody Rell proposed a series of fiscal reforms that she claimed would establish a foundation for recovery while admitting that she was leaving a horrific balance sheet for her successor. She borrowed $1.3 billion against future revenue, drained the last $300 million of budget reserves, and sold $45 million in state assets. In her own words, “quite frankly, the dire circumstances we are facing today will pale in comparison to the challenges that will face the next governor, the next legislature,” Rell said. Her reliance on one-time revenue guaranteed that her successor would be forced to raise taxes.

Governor Malloy has responded to corporate concerns by proposing to roll back about $220 million in business tax hikes before they take effect in the new two-year state budget July 1.

The recent Republican tax plan alternative relied on false revenues from union contracts concessions that could not be obtained without reopening the contracts by mutual agreement. In the absence of that agreement, this plan did not have real revenues and was an unbalanced budget.

Missing from the discussion is how to pay down our deficit with shrinking tax revenues, which will have to be offset with massive spending cuts. It’s the low hanging fruit of political discourse to over promise prosperity as a result of tax cuts but much harder to tell us exactly what the specific sacrifices will be. Representative Kupchick is adamant about services that should not be subject to cuts, but in the end fails to explain where the savings and cuts will come from.

Job creation is critical to a full recovery. Representative Kupchick should take the time to explain which industries we are trying to attract and how well matched they are to the skills of our work force.

In the coming months we should call on the Republican State Delegation to answer these questions.

Elizabeth Zezima

RTM District 6

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