OPINION: Connecticut’s governor keeps pulling out credit card

OPINION: Connecticut’s governor keeps pulling out credit card

Please send your $11,928 in today. Cash, checks, money orders, credit cards, Western Union transfers and PayPal cheerfully accepted. Because that’s how much the Tax Foundation says you owe — along with every other man, woman and child in Connecticut (livestock and domestic pets are probably exempt) — as your share of the state’s bonded debt. That makes us No. 4 in the lineup of states, although on another list we’re No. 2, and only Alaska is worse. 

(This is separate from the state’s already hefty budget deficit, and the underfunding of its pension accounts, and has nothing at all to do with the $61,539 that Uncle Sam has already borrowed in your name. But that’s a whole nother can o’ worms.)

And yet, Gov. Dannel Malloy continues to pull out the state’s credit card, loading it up with hundreds of millions of dollars in new charges during the latest meeting of the state Bond Commission, over which he holds statutory authority and (because almost nobody manages to thwart him — almost nobody, almost never) what seems like an almost mystical sway.

“Under the last seven and half years of the Malloy administration, bonding has more than doubled per year,” state Rep. Christopher Davis, R-Ellington, told a reporter. “It’s not a surprise to me that we are now at a very high level, if not the highest level, per capita in the country,” Davis said.

This Mr. Malloy does in the name of “economic development,” although he also mentions “housing,” “transportation,” “education” and “quality of life.” Thus, the money is earmarked for such projects as affordable housing in Fairfield, a playground in Farmington, a handball court in Manchester, a “splashpad” playground in New Haven, a playscape in West Haven and a grocery store in Hartford.

When asked how the next governor is supposed to deal with all this red ink, Mr. Malloy helpfully reminds us that “there’s only one governor at a time.” Shades of Lyndon Johnson, who, in answer to criticism in 1964, pointed out that “I’m the only president you’ve got.”

And, gosh, he may be a lame duck, but he’s still got the rest of the year to hold more meetings and bond more stuff. Yet, by one count I’ve seen, this state already has $36.9 billion in bonded debt.

Isn’t that more than enough?


NO MORE DONUTS: Word comes down to us that Dunkin’ Donuts will soon be known simply as Dunkin’. OK. It’s all about branding, I suppose. After all, Kentucky Fried Chicken boiled its name down (or maybe it deep-fried it) to KFC. And the venerable financial firm that once billed itself as Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith (now a part of Bank of America) has become, simply, Merrill Lynch.

But I have questions: Will that new ballpark in Hartford have to saw off part of its sign? Will Stop & Shop trim its name down to just Shop? Will the Walt Disney Co. become The Walt? Will Johnson & Johnson devolve into Johnson alone — and, if so, how will we know which Johnson they’re talking about, Robert or James? 

And will we soon be munching on mere Ms, instead of M&Ms?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Reach Glenn Richter at grichter@record-journal.com.