No shortage of bad budget news in Hartford

John J. Ryan, a former Republican state representative, and Joshua Fisher, a Hersam Acorn editor, share their back-and-forth about news going on around the state, among other items of interest. Links to all the articles and other items mentioned in the column can be found in the Opinion section of

Fisher: While the calendar says spring has arrived — baseball’s Opening Day is just a couple weeks away — there is still no joy in Hartford as Connecticut’s government is about to strike out.

Ryan: Unfortunately we have all too familiar and predictable news. To follow up on our last two columns (“Connecticut’s muddy March” and “Campaign promises melt faster than the snow”), did anyone believe the recent election campaign’s “no deficit” blather? See “Current state budget slips deeper into the red” (, March 20). Or the “no new taxes” campaign blarney? See “Tax hike ideas abound at the Capitol” (, March 23).

Fisher: The opening sentence of that last entry tells it all: “Now that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s campaign pledge not to raise taxes is in the political rearview mirror…”

Regular readers of this column won’t be at all surprised by “Committee Sends Toll Bill To Legislature; Also OKs ‘Lockbox” (, March 18).

What a concept: Our state government putting your tax money in a lockbox.

Ryan: Even more distressing, a basic economic concept to every individual or small business owner, that you can’t borrow your way out of debt is (of course) totally foreign to your elected officials, “Malloy to Wall Street: Expect state borrowing to jump 40 percent this year” (, March 18).

Fisher: Let’s not delude ourselves however, that our government’s incompetence is limited to fiscal foibles. Did you note “Veterans outraged over proposed cuts to military honors at funerals” (, March 20)?

Or how about brazen land grabs? See “Bill would give Malloy control of Stamford rail station project” (, March 19).

Ryan: We also know that about 25 years ago, one of the grand plans for the Nutmeg State’s economic rebirth (like the income tax) that was sold to taxpayers was the new casinos. Of course, Connecticut’s casino revenues (and taxes paid) have been trending downward for a while now, so the solution — obviously — is more casinos and more gambling! See: “Gaming expansion bill clears committee” (, March 19).

Fisher: In other words, creating more folks with destructive gambling addictions, more busloads of senior citizens going to spend their Social Security checks, and creating more social service needs for the government to cut from the budget to make room for all the pay increases for government employees. Or we could just call it Connecticut’s modern-day tourism industry. And by the way, Chris Powell focuses on that government fuzzy math fantasy machine in “State’s tourism campaign invents perpetual motion” (, March 21).

Ryan: There is no mystery whatsoever on how all these debacles happen: Taxpayers worry about Wall Street and Washington but pay no heed to what happens in Hartford. Don’t take our word for it — look up any and all of the items that we link online and read that (and more) for yourself. But our readers deserve the fun of a real whodunit to ponder check out “State Police Name Replacement For J. Paul Vance In New Team Approach” (, March 20). So who was it that Vance (a talented, well-regarded guy) ticked off in the Malloy Administration?

No one is talking!

Fisher: That story is really troublesome. Lt. Vance set the gold standard for public information officers at police departments across the state. Reporters across the state were amazed to hear that news last month. It really is amazing that a state employee, nationally recognized for his calm, respectful media presence after the Newtown massacre, who is good at his job… is reassigned.

Will anyone pay enough attention to work on reassigning these elected folks who assured us that they “are working on solutions” to the affordable housing mess? See “NEWSFLASH: Town denied second 8-30g moratorium,” (, March 16). It’s interesting to note that Malloy-appointed state housing commissioner, who is a former Darien first selectman that wanted the town to build more housing, doesn’t think the current Republican administration has what it takes to offer affordable housing in Darien.
Funny how these things work out.

John J. Ryan is of counsel to the Fairfield County law firm Russo & Assoc., and served 14 years as Darien and Rowayton’s state representative — and has been writing this column for Hersam Acorn even longer. Joshua Fisher has been an editor with Hersam Acorn Newspapers since 2003.