Monday, May 22, 2017

Let's Be Thankful We Live in Florida

It's been a tough year for Connecticut. My former home state is reeling from crisis after crisis, most of its own making.

The wealthiest per-capita state in the U.S. is one of four states losing population. Its taxes are the highest in the country (beating out California is no small feat). And its probate system, considered the worst in the country, reinforces the adage, "Don't die in Connecticut."

The latest blow was losing General Electric to Boston. The headquarters of one of the world's top corporations got fed up up with the Connecticut tax system, among other things, and moved to Massachusetts, hardly a tax haven itself. (My daughter, who lives in Fairfield, CT, says the loss of local tax revenues has been devastating.)

Connecticuts's answer to all of this -- not surprising from one of the bluest states in the country -- has been to double down and raise taxes even higher. As a result, businesses and residents have been fleeing the Nutmeg State in droves.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Moody's Investor Services just hit Connecticut with the third lowest rating for a state, citing population loss as a major reason. The state faces a $5.1 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years.

How to fix it? Squeeze the fat cats and corporations even harder? That may no longer work. The state budget office reluctantly admits that well may be running dry. There may be little more to squeeze out.

The problem is the big tax-and-spend states have no other playbook. Tax cuts, easing regulations, business incentives are all anathema to the Northeast Democrats.

That position is echoed by the powerful public-sector unions. A spokesman for Council 4, the largest state union, said, "Ask Connecticut's wealthiest taxpayers and largest corporations to sacrifice and pay a little more to protect the services people rely on."

Odds are the tax-and-spend folks will prevail, and more businesses and residents will move to Florida, where we have our own problems -- but overtaxation isn't one of them.

It's been a tough year for my former state. Even the weather has been lousy, cold with lots of snow. And the mighty UConn women failed to win the NCAA basketball championship. A tough year indeed.

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