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When former ambassador to Ireland and 2010 Republican nominee for governor Tom Foley formally entered the 2014 race Wednesday, he promised to cut taxes. That may seem simple enough. It’s the mantra of many candidates. But in this case, state employees should fear that pledge like no other.
Let’s go back in time to 2010. Gubernatorial candidates Democrat Dan Malloy and Republican Tom Foley held debates in which they were asked how they would deal with the then-$3.5 billion budget deficit the state was facing. Malloy was noncommittal on raising taxes saying he didn’t want to but would not rule it out as a last option.
Foley pledged back not to raise taxes to fill the $3.5 billion dollar hole. It doesn’t take a budget expert to deduce from that pledge that if he held to it, he’d have to impose draconian cuts in services, shred the states safety net for the most vulnerable and layoff state employees.
When Malloy won, he did indeed impose the biggest tax increase in state history. Everyone shared in the sacrifice. Malloy also had to ask state employee unions for some modest give backs to help fill the budget gap. (The concessions didn’t produce as much savings as expected.) Naturally, labor didn’t like it and in fact voted it down before leaders changed the rules to get it passed.
Now in a rematch of Foley v. Malloy (assuming Foley gets the nomination which certainly is not a given), the former is promising to cut taxes—not one-time givebacks but permanent cuts. How is going to pay for it? There is a surplus right now but it’s not a continuing source of revenue. In fact, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo told The Hanging Shad earlier this week the surplus should not be spent because the revenue stream is not stable.
The long and short of this is, if Tom Foley becomes governor, it will be open season on state employees. If labor didn’t like the concessions it gave to Malloy, they’ll go push button panic when Foley is in charge.