Over the last 10 years, the U.S. economy grew 15.5%, while Connecticut's GDP actually shrank by 9%.
Peter Gioia, Economist
Local Editorials & Opinions
Editorial: Taking a toll
By Susan Shultz, Editor, The Darien Times, May 1
At the time of the last election, even some of the more critical observers of Connecticut’s state government seemed to attempt to be optimistic. The previous era had come to end. Connecticut Democrats remained in power, including some surprising state upsets — though many, including local Democrats themselves, celebrated the win as more about a “rebuke” of President Donald Trump than citing a validation of the party’s state leadership.
Despite the same party being in charge, some local leaders expressed optimism in Gov. Ned Lamont’s leadership, willingness to listen and lack of partisanship.
And many who were concerned about their tax burdens and property values in November thought — well, at least it can’t get any worse.
They were wrong....
Click here to read the entire editorial.
Letter to the Editor:
Published in The Darien Times, April 12, 2019
To the Editor:
The Legislative judicial committee has voted to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in Connecticut. While the bill approving the sale of recreational marijuana still has a way to go before being adopted, we should realize that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, recreational marijuana could very likely be available in Connecticut. To provide residents, and in particular parents, with meaningful information on this important topic, there will be a discussion about marijuana “What About Weed?” at the Darien Town Hall Auditorium on Wednesday, April 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. Come to the meeting and hear experts discuss how marijuana affects teen brain development, what the long and short term health implications of marijuana use are and whether marijuana is addictive.
As director of health for the Town of Darien, I am a member of the Connecticut Association of Directors of Health (CADH), a nonprofit organization comprised of the Directors of Connecticut’s local health departments. Local health directors are the statutory agents of the Commissioner of Public Health and ensure the provision of essential public health services at the local level in Connecticut. CADH also provides testimony on bills pertaining to public health. The following is the CADH position statement and an excerpt of testimony submitted to the Legislature on the proposed legalization of recreational marijuana:
“While recognizing the potential financial benefits to the State from taxation revenue associated with this industry, the members of CADH oppose the retail sale of marijuana. As you are aware, Connecticut and the nation are struggling to make an impact in the opioid crisis. In 2018, over 1,000 of our residents lost their lives to overdoses. This number does not reflect the untold thousands that overdosed and survived to live with the disease of addiction. Local health departments have aggressively worked on this issue by collaborating with law enforcement officials, pre-hospital care partners, boards of education, prevention coalitions, elected officials, members of clergy, treatment facilities and countless other disciplines to try to turn the tide in the epidemic.
While there is a debate about marijuana as a gateway drug, there is no debate that people of all ages, genders and socio-economic backgrounds are affected by the disease of addiction. Allowing the retail sale of marijuana may increase these addiction rates and amplify the current crisis. Our residents, communities and personnel are struggling to make an impact in the opioid crisis and adding retail sale of marijuana in our state will likely complicate those efforts. However, should the decision be made to approve the recreational sale of marijuana, adequate funding for addiction treatment and educational programs must be allocated from the tax revenue generated by the sale of marijuana and marijuana products.”
Co-sponsors of the event include Communities4Action, Community Fund of Darien, the Darien Depot, Darien Health Department, Liberation Programs, and YWCA Parent Awareness.
To meet the challenges of the times, we all need to be informed – join us on April 24. Reservations are suggested: www.ywcadn.org/whataboutweed.
David Knauf, MPH, MS, REHS
Darien Director of Health
Op/Ed by Rob Hulick
The Darien Times, www.DarienTimes.com, March 6, 2019
Written in response to letters to the editor by David Bayne & Randy Klein,
Members of the Darien Democratic Town Committee, and reposted here with permission.
Letters from Democrats David Bayne and Randy Klein, published in the Darien Times criticizing Terrie Wood’s op/ed “Optimism while creating common cents,” are inaccurate and misguided.
Mr. Bayne says that “no serious person will tell you that growth is the entire solution.” Fair enough, but Ms. Wood does not claim it is the entire solution, only the priority. She is serious and she is right.
Before the adoption of the state income tax, from 1976 to 1991, Connecticut led the U.S. in GDP growth. Connecticut routinely attracted individuals and businesses from neighboring higher tax states. Fast forward through two decades of rising rates and crushing regulation, Connecticut’s GDP has shrunk 9.3% since 2007, and we are one of the four slowest-growing states in the country. Connecticut offers a pitiful environment for business formation; Forbes ranks the state 42nd on its regulatory environment and 41st in overall ease of doing business. The Tax Foundation ranks Connecticut 47th in its 2019 State Business Tax Climate study. It is no wonder why many of Connecticut’s largest employers have started to view Massachusetts and New York as relative bargains.
The state’s anti-growth policies have evaporated tax revenues and drained precious human capital. Nearly $9.0 billion in income (and counting) has left the state since 2013, and net population has declined every single year for the past five years.
As Ms. Wood recommends, we must focus on restarting the state’s economic engine and making Connecticut a preferred place to live, raise a family, and start a business. The state will simply not survive if we do not take meaningful steps to accelerate sustainable growth in the tax base. We can accomplish this by reducing or holding the line on individual tax rates, cutting the corporate tax rate, and eliminating burdensome regulations for small businesses. Fiscal conservatism recognizes a simple timeless fact: no state has ever taxed its way to prosperity. Connecticut will surely not be the first.
Of course, these pro-growth policies must be coupled with meaningful cost cutting. To achieve savings, Democrats across the state have endorsed regionalization, which would collapse major services from smaller towns into a larger metropolitan authority. The stated goal is to eliminate layers of redundant governance at the local level. I would urge Darien residents to contemplate the consequences of ceding financial and strategic control of our excellent school system to an unaccountable regional panel of bureaucrats. The end result of regionalization is, as Ms. Wood notes, a one-way flow of dollars from fiscally conservative towns to mismanaged ones. A study of history would tell us that regionalization would not make Hartford look more like Darien. It would make Darien look more like Hartford.
On that specific point, Mr. Bayne takes issue with Ms. Wood’s characterization of the state’s large cities as “mismanaged.” He also portrays a gloating Darien “starting on third base.” I would be interested in how Mr. Bayne would otherwise describe Hartford’s breathtaking decline. In 1960, Hartford itself was on third base; the city’s median income was 6.0% higher than that of the nation as a whole. Today, median family income is about 50.0% the national average. Hartford squandered its advantage through serial mismanagement, primarily in an unsustainable expansion of its retirement-benefit and debt burdens, which collectively total over $1.0 billion. Beside the disastrous race to the bottom that regionalism would set off throughout the state, the savings these policies would generate are akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Meaningful expense reductions in Hartford, and Connecticut overall, must include eliminating spending on wasteful urban renewal projects that do not improve our cities’ competitive advantage, serious pension reform, reining in expensive collective bargain agreements, and prioritizing debt pay down.
The Republican vision for Connecticut is focused on economic growth as a driver of quality of life, lower taxes, and restoring the state’s business-friendly status. In contrast, Democrats insist on higher taxes, more regulation, increased spending, and top-down regionalization that eliminates local autonomy and punishes fiscal prudence.
Mr. Bayne signs off his letter with a personal attack on Terrie Wood, claiming that Darien deserves better. Nonsense. One thing is clear: Connecticut has followed Democratic ideas and policies for a quarter century and we certainly deserve better.
The writer is a member of Darien’s Republican Town Committee.
Data sources in support of statements in Mr. Hulick's Op/Ed:
Source: The Tax Foundation. For the full report, click here.