With a state government growing and a business community shrinking, it seems we see our future path in the Capitol City.
It was an interesting session in that the plans to cut a lot of state-aid - or re-direct it - never happened. Mayors and first selectmen know their State Representatives and Senators well and surely let them know the consequences of less aid. If the towns and cities where to raise taxes who would be to blame? Your local state legislator, or course. Not a good re-election platform.
The problem is, however, that the basis of local funding continues to be the out-of-date property tax. Either we, in Hartford anyway, drastically shrink basic services - police, fire and public works - or we find alternative revenue. Raising property taxes will lead to, as in the past, a lower tax base. Yes, we have killed the goose.
Those that think cutting government is easy must understand that the big items: pensions, healthcare for employees, police and fire, schools and bond payments are locked in to a great degree. Cutting back general government has little savings effect but a big effect on delivery of services that people expect. As the state expands in the city...offices, universities, parking lots... it looks like we are becoming a state campus. Will the state then step up to its coming overwhelming role? Will the governor and the state legislature pony up the cash to keep cops on the street and kids in schools? Don't hold your breath, because every city and town in the state thinks they are short changed by the State and that Hartford gets too much aid already.
We just saw the power of local officials in the legislature and most of the same people will be the first to balk at any additional state aid for the Capitol City. We have been and are continuing to be strangled with good works - halfway houses, schools, jails, churches, non-profits ... but that doesn't matter to the first selectmen of Orange or the Mayor of Norwich, or their State Representatives or Senators.