We have a $3.5 billion dollar budget deficit and we need to make the difficult decisions that will close that gap now. We can no longer keep pushing the problem off year after year. Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York is making tough decisions and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is too. Connecticut's Governor needs to have the courage to get our fiscal house in order and the Common Sense Commitment (CSC) is an effort to help him make the first step.
The CSC plan includes massive state government reorganization and downsizing, freezing state employee salaries, and needed changes to benefits and pensions to save Connecticut taxpayers billions over the next two years.
I have submitted legislation and believe we can deal with the state's fiscal crisis by rolling back spending to 2008 levels (saving $2 billion -- Office of Fiscal Analysis); reducing state employee and elected officials salaries; and I suggest having a 2/3 majority vote to enact new municipal mandates.
The Common Sense Commitment also recommends a 5 percent reduction in the state's workforce; recognizing that government spending has grown 149% over the last decade where Connecticut's population growth as remained stagnant.
This proposal is a true "hold harmless" for municipalities. It will preserve municipal aid over the next two years while saving the state approximately $1 billion. No significant spending cuts have been made over the last two budget cycles, despite the massive drop off in revenue, which has led to the projected $3.5 billion deficit.
There are short and long- term savings with in the proposal. It includes immediate savings for taxpayers, such as the 10 percent pay and perk cuts for lawmakers and elimination of longevity bonuses for state employees. The two-year pay freeze for state workers would save $502 million, according to the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.
I also believe long-term restructuring of pension benefits for state employees would help reduce the stress of our financial burdens. I believe we should ask state workers to contribute more to their retirement packages and healthcare benefits and I would increase, the retirement age from 55 to 65 years o
In 2012 alone, approximately $485 of every Connecticut resident's income tax payment will fund future state employee retirements. Our state employee retirement system also carries an $11.7 billion unfunded liability which represents about $3,325 per man, woman and child in the state.
We can no longer kick the can down the road. We must confront the seriousness of our fiscal problems now to ensure a healthier economic future for Connecticut residents.