Malloy's budget

In a bit of unintended irony, state workers turn out in support of their long-suffering fellow residents

In a bit of unintended irony, state workers turn out in support of their long-suffering fellow residents

We're probably a decade away from the utter collapse that will finally force real change, but Chris Powell says that Malloy's proposals are freaking out the legislature, which is exactly what it needs.

With his budget address Wednesday, Governor Malloy essentially proposed scrapping the social and political contract under which Connecticut has operated for decades. 

.... [T]he governor would end the coddling of state employees. While remarking at length Wednesday about how much he respects them, he said he wants $1.6 billion in savings from them over the next two years, and his budget director warned that the administration is ready to lay off 10 percent of the state's workforce.

And the governor would sharply reduce financial aid to most municipalities so aid can be maintained or increased to the poorest cities and towns. This would be accomplished in large part by making municipalities contribute to the state teacher pension fund, which is now financed entirely by state government. The governor would have municipalities pay a third of the fund's expense each year, collectively $400 million. This would cost many towns millions of dollars each year, and it quickly began freaking them out.

But the freakout arising from the breaking of the social and political contract will be good. 

For the more that people have to pay it for it directly, the more they may start resenting the perpetual poverty of the cities and the welfare policies, anti-social lifestyles, and government incompetence and corruption that cause and sustain it.

And the less state government subsidizes towns, the more townspeople will start resenting their lack of control over town government's biggest expense, town government employees, whose compensation is controlled not by town government but by the undemocratic system of binding arbitration of union contracts.

But of course there is an alternative to raising property taxes -- obtaining from municipal employee unions the same sort of concessions the governor now is seeking from the state employee unions.

By restraining spending so much -- an increase of less than 2 percent, much of that just being put aside to compensate for neglect of the pension fund -- rather than increasing state taxes again, the governor's new budget will set everybody on the payroll at everybody else's throats and thereby just maybe force legislators of both parties to reconsider some of state government's mistaken premises.

That would make Wednesday's address the governor's best, and better still with every new freakout it provokes.