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December 1, 2014 Editorial

CT state gov’t no longer affordable

It's still nearly a month before Christmas, but already Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has found a lump of coal in his stocking.

Faced with a $99 million deficit in the current fiscal year, Malloy and his budget director Benjamin Barnes are being forced to use their shared X-Acto knife to trim spending by about $48 million. The unexpected widening of the deficit caught many people by surprise, particularly because there was no mention of it on the campaign trail.

Worse yet, Barnes now is warning that the state has entered into a period of permanent fiscal crisis. Such ominous words portend dark days ahead for Connecticut's fiscal situation; there is a projected $1.3 billion deficit in fiscal 2016.

With these fiscal storm clouds once again hovering over the state Capitol, it's become increasingly more difficult for us to see how Malloy will be able to keep his pledge not to raise taxes. We hope he can figure out a way, but it won't be easy.

Sadly, these fiscal issues still are hounding the state despite economic conditions improving: Connecticut added another 3,600 jobs in October, keeping the unemployment rate flat at 6.4 percent but continuing the momentum of 11,500 jobs gained in September.

With the economy improving and the budget situation worsening, it indicates that Connecticut is funding a government it no longer can afford. And further tax increases aren't the answer. In the months ahead, Malloy and the state legislature will have another difficult task contending with a billion-dollar deficit. No one likes the idea of spending cuts, particularly if they threaten the state's most vulnerable citizens or risk slowing down Connecticut's economic recovery.

However, if lawmakers don't find a long-term solution to our fiscal issues, the economic security of the entire state will be in jeopardy. We strongly believe in the need to invest in education, infrastructure/transportation, and social service programs, but if we can't get a consistently balanced budget, all of those areas will be under constant threat of cutbacks.

We need a long-term, affordable solution that changes the way government functions.

Legislature shouldn’t dictate holiday store openings

In another example of legislative overreach, Democratic state lawmakers say they want to discourage Connecticut retailers from opening on Thanksgiving Day by requiring stores to pay their employees more to work on the holiday.

The proposal is being pushed by state Rep. Matthew Lesser, (D-Middletown), who lobbied for a similar bill last year that would have required retailers to pay workers triple overtime for Thanksgiving Day hours. Rightfully, that proposal didn't make it out of committee.

Retailers opening on Thanksgiving is off-putting and most Americans say they don't like the idea. Yet, millions of shoppers rush to stores after they finish their Turkey Day trimmings. While we'd prefer retailers to let their employees enjoy the holiday, it shouldn't be state government's role to force the issue. State lawmakers pushing the concept are sending yet another message that the legislature is anti-business.

It also opens a potential Pandora's box because many businesses stay open on holidays. Would the law only apply to retailers? If so, is that fair? Hospitals, police, and firemen too labor on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If this is an issue Connecticut residents truly feel passionate about, let them demonstrate it by avoiding stores on Thanksgiving. That will give retailers less of a reason to open. In this case, it is better to let the market dictate holiday store openings, rather than state government. 

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