Lamont talk of ‘efficiencies’ does not mask real intent
We read with some amusement comments by Governor-elect Ned Lamont that he is going to search for ways to streamline state services, making them more cost-effective and efficient. He has even mentioned the possibility of hiring efficiency experts – or whatever they are called nowadays – to examine state operations and come up with a blueprint for savings. As we said we were amused.
Lamont has never acquired the moniker of a fiscal conservative, nor has he eschewed the charge that he is a tax-and-spender. In fact, Mr. Lamont proudly believes – as do most Progressives – that government, rather than individual liberty, is the path to prosperity. So, the upshot is most state residents should not consider this leap into fiscal responsibility evidence the governor-elect is turning over a new leaf. Rather, we should see it as a bargaining chip in his efforts to “make us all pay our fair share.”
In a world that looks for “dog whistles,” those words or phrases that bespeak one’s true intentions, we should remember that Lamont campaigned on a promise to give the state an “economy we can all live with.” That means the era of high taxation the state has experienced over the last two decades is not going to end soon.
Mr. Lamont has signaled his belief not only personal and property taxes should go up, mostly in the form of a state automobile tax, but also that other forms of taxation should be enacted in the form of new fees as well as – getting back to our roads– tolls re-imposed on state limited-access highways.
The governor-elect has determined that it isn’t state spending that needs to be reined-in, but that more taxes are to be imposed in order to balance the flood of red ink the state has seen in the last four years. What, then, are we to make of his comments concerning state efficiency and streamlining?
As we said, this should be seen as a bargaining chip, not only with state politicians in Hartford, but with the general public as well. Promising to find government waste is the oldest ploy in the book used by politicians. Twenty years ago, the state’s departments were streamlined with a promise for cost savings. In fact, costs continued to go up.
The reason: The streamlining, while looking good on paper, had no real effect on the number of state employees, the amounts of money given to the new departments (some just got more to cover the new responsibilities), or the projected increases in state spending over the long haul. State spending continued to increase at the same rates as prior to the merging of departments, and that spending was three- and four-times the rate of inflation in each fiscal year.
Mr. Lamont is dangling the “state efficiency” carrot before the state’s taxpayers before his “stick” of new taxes is announced with the coming of the new fiscal year and budget to be announced at the State of the State speech in early 2019. Lawyers have a term for this type of tactic: a distinction without a difference. We think we can safely classify the governor-elect’s statements in this category.
Connecticut’s voters decided last month to continue with the profligate spending we have seen during the Malloy years. The only difference is Ned Lamont is much for hard-core Progressive than is Dannel Malloy. He will seek more and more taxes to cover more and more spending because he believes the money Connecticut’s taxpayers earn is his to spend.
Don’t be fooled by the call for finding government waste. It is just a cover for what Lamont plans in the next few months.
Don’t forget less fortunate
We are encouraged by the many collections and drives, sponsored by various civic and fraternal organizations during the holidays. This is particularly true when it comes to the West Haven Emergency Assistance Taskforce (WHEAT), a group that has helped the needy in the city for more than three decades.
The height of the collection season corresponds with the holiday season. This is not a coincidence. Every Christmas or holiday concert, party or gathering seems to have a place for giving to the needy.
The difficulty comes after the tinsel is taken down and the lights put away. Need continues, and WHEAT shelves need stocking all year. Let’s not forget once Christmas is over.