Thursday, April 18, 2013

Connecticut's Chickens Come Home to Roost

Dire predictions of the future of Connecticut and its economy have been surfacing recently, with increasingly strident views about our prospects.  The latest version, from a UConn professor, Fred Cartensen, and the head of CAI (the Comeback America Initiative), David Walker.  The latter was the former Controller General of the U.S., and the former is the head of the CT Center for Economic Analysis.  They cite, as others have, our long-term lack of job growth, but focus on the debt per person owed by Connecticut citizens.  We owe over $50,000 per person in future obligations of one kind and another, especially in unfunded or underfunded retirement and pension plans for teachers and state workers, which is the highest debt ratio in the country. The second worst state owes $38,000 per person, and other states cited were around $6,000 to $8,000 per capita, with some states actually having a positive balance.

Accordingly to the two gentlemen above, there is no way that we can go much longer in this state without running into major problems.  They call Connecticut a big suburb, winding around "sinkholes" of the inner cities, but urban problems are everywhere.  The difference here is that we are pretending not to have promised money we don't have.  Now, that issue is affecting our debt rating, our economic development options, and our future as a state.  It's time to wake up and face the music, before our budgets become completely unsustainable.

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