Is Malloy’s proposed sales tax cut the softener, before he hits state with tolls?

Gov. Dannel P. MalloyConnecticut Republicans are caught between the proverbial rock-and-a-hard-place with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed cut in the state sales tax. Democrats are almost in the same position. The governor sent ripples through the political community on Sunday, when he announced a proposed cut in the sales tax from 6.35 percent to 6.2 percent by November and down to 5.95 percent the following year. Now that’s a proposal any Republican could support, except it is tough medicine for any Republican to swallow, when it comes from a Democratic governor as strident as this one.

On Monday, as Malloy touted his proposal – part of his overall budget package to be revealed on Wednesday – the GOP looked for the downside, and they found it. It’s a “shell game,” they howled. In return for a sales tax reduction, the governor would eliminate the sales tax exemption on clothing purchases up to $50. Not to mention, how is the state going to close a projected $2.7 billion two-year budget deficit?

Democrats were even more perplexed. Both Senate President Martin Looney and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey chose the silent route, preferring to wait until after the full budget is released. To Democrats, tax cuts are like being forced to take cod liver oil.

Even more distressing to Democrats, Malloy was sounding like a Republican. Making the rounds in Middletown on Monday, the governor said the sales tax “is a broader tax and will distribute more relief and, quite frankly, distribute it more equitably to the middle class.”

In that he is correct. If a Republican governor had been making that statement, GOP legislators would have been heralding the news, while Democrats would be less respectful, howling “shell game” rather than “let’s wait until the full budget is released.”

From a consumer perspective, who wouldn’t trade a sales tax exemption on $50 for a reduced sales tax? Taken at face value, a sales tax cut could produce more revenue for the state on large ticket items like automobile purchases and the like in addition to a overall purchases of all goods subjected to the sales tax.

Forget the Democrats for just a moment. The fact is, Republicans sound like nit-pickers if they oppose the sales tax cut. Malloy’s plan is not the panacea to what ills the state, but for a Democrat to propose a cut in a major tax is big news. For Republicans to oppose it smells like “politics as usual,” during a time when the public is fed up with that game. The GOP should signal the end to “politics as usual” and support the sales tax cut, now. It may be the only thing they can support in this budget, because the betting game from this corner is that the governor’s sales tax cut is a way of softening the blow for what’s also sure to be part of his proposal, tolls on Connecticut highways. That’s where the real “shell game” will be played.

Have Connecticut Voters Tuned Out Gov. Malloy?

The latest Quinnipiac University poll numbers are in and they are not good for Connecticut’s first-term Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.   The governor’s latest approval rating, 43 percent, is down two points since October.  That’s right, down, after Newtown, when the combative governor displayed a sensitive side in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  He’s never gotten above 45 percent approval rating.  Worse, 48 percent of unaffiliated voters disapprove of the job he is doing.  Even Democrats have problems with him.   Normally, a Democrat in office scores in the 70 or even 80 percentile range, but the first Democratic Party governor in more than two decades earns only a 63 percent approval from members of his own party.

Gun Control Telling

The numbers on gun control are especially, instructive, perhaps an indication voters have tuned out this governor, who pushed on state residents, the largest tax hike in history two years ago.  Just 41 percent of those polled, say they approve of the way Malloy is handling gun policy, 38 percent disapprove and 21 percent don’t know.

This is fascinating, because the Quinnipiac Poll was centered around gun control policy, and most everybody surveyed had an opinion.  The vast majority demanded stricter gun control.  Curiously, people in huge numbers, demanded what Malloy is proposing, yet the governor could barely score above 40 percent approval on his gun control policy.  That is a sure sign of a tune out.

Overexposure

Throw in the fact Malloy makes it a point to be on the evening news daily, does numerous radio interviews, even on rock stations, and seems to be traveling everywhere, and it could be Connecticut is experiencing Malloy overload.

Then there is the credibility issue.  During Business Day at the Legislative Office in Hartford, when Malloy promised to balance the state Radio dialbudget without tax hikes or not exceed the mandated spending cap, the audience expressed skepticism.

Listening Tour?

Now the governor is launching a “listening tour,” visiting municipalities around the state to get public input and gauge public opinion.  Except, at his first stop in Middletown, it seemed the governor did most of the talking.  Not to mention, the one-hour “community forum” was tightly controlled, with attendees being asked to submit questions in advance, and the topics then chosen, before the forum began.  That doesn’t sound like a listening tour.

One Term Governor?

From poll numbers to policy to personality, the story line does not bode well for the third-year Connecticut chief executive.  Lacking the charisma of an Obama, Malloy, even in deep, blue Connecticut, could very well be a one-term governor.

Beware Of The ‘Facts’, When Malloy Delivers Budget Address

It should be quite a hoot in Hartford, Wednesday, when third-year Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy delivers his budget address to a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly.  This will be Malloy’s second, two-year budget and if it’s anything like the first, you can expect our esteemed chief executive won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

As is customary, the governor will make the rounds on morning radio and TV, the day after the speech.  More than likely, it will be the usual softball game, with hosts gushing over the fact the governor has given them some of his precious time.  Such was not the case, two years ago, when I interviewed Malloy, the day after his first budget address.  To begin with, he was six minutes late to the interview.  And then we got into it.

You can listen to the interview, which is attached below, but beware of what he said, and what really has happened.  For example:

  • Malloy claimed this budget would put Connecticut’s “economic house back in order.”  It did not.  We still have net zero job growth.
  • He claimed everyone agreed the budget ‘was honest” and “in balance.”  In reality, not everyone agreed.  The Republicans certainly, didn’t, especially Sen. Len Suzio, who from the get go, said the budget was out of whack.
  • Malloy talked about concessions from the state unions.  In the end, he didn’t get what he anticipated.

In reality, Malloy’s budget overestimated revenue growth, while underestimating the cost of government.  Much like the predecessor he criticized, his budget was also out of balance from day one, as evidenced by the red ink in which it currently is bathed.

Near the end of the interview, we got into the governor’s mandated “paid sick leave,” but as you will hear, we ran out of time.  Just keep in mind the Hartford Business Journal has just released a survey, showing how business in Connecticut has changed it’s landscape, in the aftermath of the mandate, the only state in the nation, that has paid sick leave.

I hope, after you listen to the interview, you can use it as a point of comparison, when you hear the governor make his media rounds on Thursday morning’s radio and TV shows.  Enjoy!

Malloy budget interview 2011 malloy

Welcome To Deep Blue Connecticut

Cash-strapped Connecticut is continuing its push for universal preschool.  When Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposes his new two-year budget on Wednesday, it will include the call for a new state agency.  The Office of Early Childhood, will initially cost $243 million in the first year and $306 million in the second year.  In other words, more than a half-billion dollars. We are told the agency is designed to nurture and educate children to age 5.

When the governor made his announcement on Monday, he was naturally surrounded by children.  Child advocates were also in attendance.  In fact, those groups offered input and strongly suggested the new agency be created. Everyone was all smiles.

The current set-up, we are told, is too cumbersome, confusing and very difficult to navigate for parents.  And we are reminded, the net cost to taxpayers will only be $370,000 for new administrative staff.  That’s because the new agency will absorb duties of the other agencies.   Maggie Adair, executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, even said the governor’s plan will make “state government’s role more efficient and effective.”  Stop me, if you haven’t heard that line before.

More likely than not, with a Democratic-controlled General Assembly, Malloy will get his new agency, even with a state swimming in debt.  By next year, Malloy will label the agency a “success,” while stating in the next breath, “we need to do more.”

In a few years, Malloy will be long gone from the Connecticut political scene, leaving the rest of the state taxpayers to pick up the residue of another failed, liberal experiment.  That, of course, will lead to the proposal for another, new government agency that will be “more efficiGov. Malloyent and effective.”   Welcome to deep blue Connecticut!