One of the great divides in our nation today is getting wider and it does not bode well for the future. It is the division within our society by income or wealth. Most people do not think of themselves as “rich” but all terms are relative. The diversity within our own communities is wider than we may expect since most people tend to socialize and interact with others of similar backgrounds. Expanding the horizon of understanding is required if we are going to be a viable community to all our citizens.
The economy was the key issue in the elections of last November and it was so because recent events have crossed the great divide of wealth. Unemployment, reductions in retirement programs, increased contributions to benefit packages and of course increased prices have all had an impact on the families within our community. For years we came to expect “the good life” when incomes rose, jobs were stable, prices were constant and opportunities were plentiful.
That is not life as most people know it today, but for some life has not changed much they still have the same job, expect the same raises and can not relate with the financial plight of some of their neighbors. For years government leaders have promoted more programs and services while pushing the responsibility to pay for those services to a future date. Funding government expansion often times was to be paid for with projections of expansion in the economy, unfortunately those projections have been far off target.
There was a limit to how long the spiral of expansion could continue, and how to fund the continued growth. Governor Malloy has pointed out it is now a time for shared sacrifice, the party is over. In brief the time has come to cut back on expansion, consider some reductions, and expect less from the government. Governor Malloy has just proposed the one of the largest tax increases in Connecticut history. This increase is required to cover the vast expansion of economic obligations approved by legislators for years.
All of Connecticut will feel the impact as sales tax exemptions will disappear, sales tax rates will rise and income tax obligations will increase across the board. We have kicked the can of obligations as far as we can and now it is time to pay the price.
Locally leaders looking at budgets must recognize the roots of the problems and the depth they reach in our community. Our local budgets should be proactive and adjust for the times. We can no longer have a business as usual approach to our budgets or government. We should not be spending a one time grant, to introduce a new program and kick the continuing obligation down the street. We can not afford to prolong an existing program that does not appear to have financial support in the future. Now is the time to sharpen our pencils and scrutinize our budgets. Now is the time to look at our projections for capital expenditures and use one time grant funding for those expenditures thereby reducing pressure on future budgets.
This is the time for local leaders to consider the entire community and the economic hardships of our times and adjust their planning. We as a community can not ignore our neighbors and must recognize that as a community we must accept some adjustments even if we sacrifice some of our calls for additional government services. We can get by without more government but some of our neighbors are struggling just to get by in life.