Opinion: Let’s halt the race to the bottom

Bill Dunne is the Republican nominee for State Senate District 25, which includes all of Norwalk and most of Darien.

NORWALK,  Conn. — Connecticut faces a calamity of misgovernment. We see it manifested in three ways: Our children don’t want to settle here. Our retirees don’t want to retire here. And many others would just as soon move to another state.

Consider the latest indicator: MoneyRates.com, an online financial news service, reported a survey that shows that Connecticut is among “the worst states to make a living.” Forty-five states ranked higher than Connecticut—a drop of nine places since last year. If this is a race to the bottom, we are gaining fast on Rhode Island, Mississippi, New York, and Hawaii. (Hawaii because of its extremely high cost of living.)

A new Gallup Poll showed that half of those surveyed in Connecticut (49 percent to be exact) would like to move to another state if they could.

A few weeks earlier, the president of the Connecticut Society of CPA’s, Camille Murphy, spoke about financial ratios that she said made Connecticut “look to be in worse shape than Detroit.” Not long ago, Barron’s newspaper rated Connecticut’s debt situation as the worst in the country. And the website TopRetirements.com ranked Connecticut as worst state for retirement. Connecticut’s confiscatory estate tax surely has something to do with that.

By one measure, Connecticut’s taxpayers are the hardest hit in the nation. “Tax Freedom Day,” so named by the Tax Foundation, an independent tax-policy research organization, arrived on May 9 this year. That’s the day on which Connecticut taxpayers finally start to keep the money they earn. Until then, everything they earn goes to pay federal, state, and local taxes. And among all the states, May 9 was the latest.

For the past 20 years, Connecticut has had the worst job-creation record in the nation. And last year, our economy (the value of all goods and services produced in the state) actually shrank.

This should not be happening in a state as beautiful as Connecticut, and as well-endowed with a dynamic, well-educated, and highly skilled population.  So why is it happening? Let us count the ways.

  1. The administration of Gov. Dan Malloy seems not to understand where good jobs and prosperity come from. For Malloy and his allies, the top priority is to enlarge the state government, even though it comes at the expense of the private sector. They seem not to understand that the private sector is the Golden Goose.
  2. They believe that the way to attract employers to Connecticut, and to prevent certain Connecticut companies from leaving, is to bribe them using other people’s money (i.e., yours and mine). The process by which the governor selects these favored companies is in a back room somewhere. There’s an expression for that: Corporate welfare. Meanwhile the vast majority of other companies remain heavily burdened by taxes and regulations.
  3. The government is allowing the transportation infrastructure most vital to the state’s economy — Metro-North and the roads and bridges of Fairfield County — to crumble. Meanwhile we are spending billions on a bus-way in the Hartford area and a grandiose commuter rail line connecting New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield.

All kinds of repercussions result from neglect of transportation needs in Fairfield County. One of them is well known to realtors. They will attest to the fact that some residents have fled to New York and New Jersey because of unreliable Metro-North service. They’ll also tell you about lost sales when would-be home buyers got wind of the commuting hassles.

“If people move out of CT,” wrote Darien resident and commuter-advocate Jim Cameron, “they take with them their taxes, both local (property) and state (sales and income). Reduced demand for real estate lowers property values. Your town’s grand list shrinks and taxes must rise to fill the gap, creating a vicious cycle. The ‘gold coast’ is losing its luster.”

One would think that Bob Duff, who is nominally Norwalk’s and Darien’s representative in the State Senate, would be standing up for his commuting constituents. But he has been all-in with Malloy on siphoning funds away from Metro-North. He’s been all-in on Malloy’s barrage of tax hikes and regulatory overkill. He’s been all-in on the Malloy agenda, period. Apparently he thinks his smiling visage in so many photo-ops, and his emailed traffic alerts, are sufficient to obscure his dereliction on the issues that really matter to people.

That’s why I have chosen to seek election to the State Senate from Norwalk and Darien. Because there is a remedy for the dysfunction in Hartford. It is a more engaged, attentive citizenry. If there’s a bright side to the commuting snafus and the continuing exodus of people and businesses, it is that people are in fact becoming more engaged. The more awareness of the important role that politics in Hartford plays in our daily lives in Norwalk and Darien, the better. And recovery will follow.



10 responses to “Opinion: Let’s halt the race to the bottom”

  1. piberman

    Would be appropriate for Senator Duff to list his accomplishments and explain why he continues to support Gov Malloy’s policies that have brought such negative attention to CT.

  2. EDR

    Something we agree on Peter!

  3. Duff and Duffer

    You may no longer have affordable healthcare or the doctors you used to see, but thanks to Duff animals will have proper care in kennels. You see it’s all about priorities.

  4. John Hamlin

    This is a letter with serious points that Senator Duff needs to address. What has Senator Duff done to turn around the race to the bottom? And what will he do to influence other Democrats? Senator Duff works hard and cares about his constituents. He should detail his legislative record. Many who have supported him and want to support him this year want to know how our politicians will turn things around.

  5. EastNorwalkChick

    “For the past 20 years, Connecticut has had the worst job-creation record in the nation.”
    For 17 of the last 20 yrs. we had Republican Governors…Rowland 1994-2004, Rell 2004-2011…so laying this at Malloy’s feet is a bit disingenuous.

  6. Bill

    We had democratic state houses too, and they ultimately controlled the purse strings

  7. Bill Dunne

    EastNorwalkChick… You’re correct to a certain extent. One thing you overlook is that Democrats have had the majority in both houses of the Connecticut legislature for 36 consecutive years. For many of those years they had super-majorities, which means they were veto-proof. They got whatever they wanted passed, passed, and it didn’t matter who was sitting in the governor’s chair. One-party monopoly on power for that long and of that magnitude is not good. Look at the City of Detroit and the state of Illinois.

  8. Joe

    Comparing CT to Detroit is not exactly a fair comparison, accept,
    that both areas had large manufacturing bases. But Norwalk isn’t defaulting in pensions or shutting off the water like Detroit or laying off a 1,000 teachers like Chicago just did. so lets try and put things into perspective and keep it real.

    Few observations;

    We are not in a multiple front war, well we are but not one that needs large manufacturing base such was the case for WW2. When that war ended many western economies took off for a time when manufacturing changed back to consumer products from a war machine. CT was in large part an economy based upon supplying war efforts. Sikorsky and Lycoming in Bridgeport and Stratford at their hey day in the late 60’s employed over 10’s of thousands, alone. When Viet Nam ended, Lycoming struggled to stay afloat with orders on the abrahams tank motors drastically reduced. Lycoming is abandond now and so is GE and Remington in Bgpt. Sikorsky just landed the contract for the new presidential helicopters which will help keep them operational.

    Than came NAFTA in the early 90s that allowed corporations to manufacture overseas withdrawing many import duties. It was promise that NAFTA would boost the economy because of increased trading and allowing Mexican commerce to flow freely across the border. Problem was/is no one from South America nor Asia even can afford to buy anything made in the US. So that deal didn’t turn out well at all, in fact all across the south gin mills and clothing factories shuttered and moved manufacturing operations to Asia and a little in Central and South America. Only thing coming across the border now besides inferior car parts are immigrants seeking to say alive and drugs.

    Beginning in the 80’s there was an influx of Asian made vehicles that flooded the US market and hit Detroit really hard. The big three consolidated and closed up many plants. Overseas governments policy’s and laws don’t have the advanced worker protections, benefits or wages that the US does, nor do they have regulations on pollution of the environment, land, water nor atmospheric. So with an abundance of cheap labor and no worker or environmental protections making stuff on the cheap and mailing it back to us to consume, postage free has begun to take effect on nearly all of the US manufacturing industries.

    China has supplied low quality, even hazardous products made with poisonous materials that are banned in the US but somehow still allowed on US store shelves, mainly because of the profits.

    Lets not forget yet another factor in the decline of the US; GE Headquarters is right here in Fairfield County, yet GE receives refunds from the government utilizing offshore banks to dodge an skirt US and CT taxes.

    It’s a point well taken that in desperation some may be inclined to give away the store just to keep any jobs. Be nice to see the taxes that UBS and RBS in Stamford pay. But what other ways can good paying jobs be enticed to lay down roots here?
    Infrastructure, educated workforce?

    There are multiples of sources of fault for the current economic stagnation but blaming one guy, any one guy is way over simplifying to a point of naivete and does not acknowledging the underlying causes that exacerbate the downward trends.

    Started out with accepted data and somehow everything became one lowly legislator and a governors fault. That indicates its more than just partisanship, it indicates a lack of understanding of the issues and root causes. Instead of just another cheap partisan shot would’ve like to see Mr. Dunn present his ideas on resolving the issues we face rather than, just blame the other guys.

    That’s not a platform, its just nonsensical hype with data tossed in to make an attempt to tie in an illogical statement. Political jargon with no solutions.

    How about ideas on how to address the education funding inequalities? Transportation infrastructure?
    Mental health?
    Pick a topic, any relevant topic that effect people
    and present ideas.

    “It’s all their fault,” is not a winning strategy. Ask Mr. Rove.

  9. piethein

    Well said Joe whomever you are.

  10. piberman

    A few facts will be helpful. No other state responded to the Great Recessions impact on budgets as did CT Democrats historic tax hike and no layoff pledge to state employees. We now know the success of those policies. No other state still has employment 50,000 below pre-Recession levels. And a forecast $1.5 bil deficit waiting a new Gov. With a recession likely in a year or two continuation of Gov Malloy’s policy of no state layoffs will force a new tax increase.
    That’s the real issue. No matter who is Gov the Democrat super majority will force a new tax hike to preserve state worker employment.

    Senator Duff needs defend the Governors unorthodox policies. That’s a challenge even for a Nobel Laurette. And John Rowland is irrelevent to the discussion. Overall state public employment was sharply curtailed nationally following the Recession. But not in CT. And we have the results. Democrats favor public sector employment in CT. So tax hikes encourage jobs, firms and people to move. Its not rocket science.

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