Report by Paula Antolini
September 16, 2018 2:34PM EDT
Sen. Boucher: ‘We Must Tackle Bonded Debt and Unfunded Liabilities to Get Our State to Grow’
Although many times during my service as your state legislator my efforts have felt like pushing a boulder up a large hill, I can finally see a glimmer of hope for our beleaguered state and its taxpayers. Lawmakers finally have started to pay attention to common sense financial practices that would be less taxing on our state. We now are focusing attention on reducing state spending and bonding and getting the state’s economy back on track.
The past two years has seen passage of bipartisan budgets that fully funded the state’s obligations without raising taxes. We also instituted a constitutional spending cap, a bonding spending cap, and a volatility cap that have Wall Street taking notice. These are good measures that will help put Connecticut on better financial footing, but we have a long way to go, especially in terms of our bonded debt. Currently, the state is paying $2.9 billion of this fiscal year’s budget to pay off our bonded debt.
Connecticut has the second-highest bonded debt per capita in the nation. To eliminate that debt today would cost, every state resident pay more than $10,000.
You should know that Connecticut has a part time- citizen legislative system. Many of us also employed in the private sector. I work in the finance industry. Each day, I receive several emails and read numerous articles dissecting the positives and negatives of potential investments.
In addition to bonded debt, Moody’s Investment Services notes that Connecticut has the second highest percentage of unfunded liabilities in the country. Our state unfunded liabilities are 359.8% of state revenues. At $71.2 billion, our state is second only to Illinois.
Being number two in both bonded debt and unfunded liabilities makes Connecticut a risky investment. It also is one of the many reasons our economy continues to struggle a decade after the Great Recession.
Financial institutions are reluctant to put money into a state with year after year budget deficits. Businesses are reluctant to locate to a state that consistently seeks to resolve its financial problems by its raising taxes and the cost of doing business. These actions have had the opposite effect with residents and businesses running for the exits.
As I said earlier, the last two budgets and the fiscal restraints we placed into them have made progress toward improving Connecticut’s economy. However, it’s going to take time and a consistent effort to reduce state spending, shrink the size of government, and cut taxes. This is what people want. And it the responsibility of an elected official to listen to people.
If we all work toward this goal Connecticut can stop being the state with the second worst ranking in the country. We can recreate a pro-growth, pro-business and pro-taxpayer environment that had our state leading the country as having the best standard of living anywhere!