‘Paying their fair share’ never gets a definition
In the run up to developing a new budget, and with it new revenues wished for by Gov. Ned Lamont, one is hearing the mantra the state’s well-to-do must pay “their fair share” to keep the state afloat. This statement, made popular by former President Barack Obama, strikes us as both facile and meaningless. What exactly does it mean? What is the fair share? And who determines it?
The state’s “rich” are centered in two areas of the state, Fairfield and Hartford Counties. Fairfield has its proximity to New York City and home the prototypical “daily commuters.” Hartford’s suburbs are home not only to the state’s insurance industry, as well as various lobbying groups that lurk about the capitol.
We constantly hear this mantra of “fair share” coming from various special interest groups, politicians and social activist types. Yet, we never find out how much is enough, nor why what they are paying now is insufficient. Instead, the bumper-sticker mentality of incendiary statements and half-truths is the rule of the day.
In the northeast, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are dominated by Democrats, and have been for more than a half-century. With the coming of the energy crisis in the 1970s, and the high cost of living that increased mightily in the 1980s, industries began leaving the state. With international trade agreements, further industries, which once depended on Connecticut’s skilled labor force, looked elsewhere in order to compete.
While the state’s economy declined and its dependence on manufacturing disappeared, the General Assembly did not and would not adapt to the times. Over the next three decades, state spending remained in the double digits each budget year. As we said last week, the state income tax was supposed to be the catalyst toward steadier spending and even steadier taxation. Politicians did what they do best – spend, and we are no better off now than when these messianic prophecies of better days ahead were made.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut do not have revenue problems, they have spending problems. The political class has not weaned itself off the idea that the state’s taxpayers are a bottomless pit of revenue. More and more high-end residents are leaving the state. The age of electronic communication and doing business in other places has allowed people to find other digs.
On top of the tax problem, which Progressives who run the state think is too little, we have more than $100 million in unfunded liabilities that are going to choke off the possibility of economic growth if some solution is not found.
In recent weeks, the toll issue has been resurrected, promising that more nickel-and-dime taxation will be contemplated that will hit not only the state’s “rich” but everyone else.
The state’s rich are paying their fair share. In fact, they are paying more than their fair share as they are paying the bulk of the state’s revenue. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York admitted what we all know. Taxing the rich, while a tempting proposition, is now an invitation for them to vote with their feet.
Connecticut has never addressed its spending problem. Maybe it’s time for state politicians to stop looking toward the next election and truly look at the future of the state.
We won’t hold our breath.