Westport Businessmen: Connecticut Must Do Better

When Connecticut legislators passed a controversial budget bill earlier this month — which Governor Malloy has not yet signed, and is still being tinkered with — a number of business leaders howled. GE threatened to move.

Two Westport businessmen decided to do more than just complain. Bart Shuldman (a frequent “06880” commenter) and Steve Obsitnik (a former congressional candidate) organized a “business roundtable.” Set for this Friday (June 26, 9 a.m., Norwalk Inn), the aim is to discuss ways to improve the state’s business climate.

Governor Malloy was invited, but declined. So Shuldman and Obsitnik got another governor to speak: Florida’s Rick Scott.

“We need to know what competitive states like his are doing — so we can do better,” Shuldman says. “In business it’s called benchmarking — looking at the market and seeing best practices.”

The roundtable is an invitation-only event. But I’m sure Shuldman will provide “06880” with details.

Florida Governor Rick Scott

Florida Governor Rick Scott


82 responses to “Westport Businessmen: Connecticut Must Do Better

  1. Sorry, but no one in Florida thinks Scott knows “best practices”

  2. Thomas Orofino

    Dan, How could I get an invitation

  3. Jill Greenberg

    I would also add that a strong business climate and promoting a great place to live for all are not the same thing. Very little about business climate, if one looks at Florida, let’s say, promotes strong education for all its citizens, protects the environment, and generally considers the vulnerable when making decision.

  4. A. David Wunsch

    Might I suggest a cameo appearance by. Gov. Sam Brownback from Kansas.
    ADW Staples 1956

  5. Bart, Florida is a model state?

    Remember that link to the chart I posted a while back which showed how, over a 20-year period, CT taxpayers have paid out roughly $240 billion more in federal taxes than they have received in federal spending.

    Well, Florida has been one of those beneficiaries of the “subsidies” provided by states such as CT. During that same 20-year period, it has received almost $300 billion more in federal spending than its taxpayers have paid out in federal taxes.

    And, without the Feds, where would Florida have been after its real estate implosion following the 2008 financial crisis?

    • Jeff Porter

      Exactly. Rather than asking Rick Scott for insights on best practices the panel should ask him how he plans to fix his state’s finances so that it no longer has to rely on subsidies financed by taxes paid by the people of Connecticut and other truly competitive states. I find it puzzling that people would complain about taxes they pay to Connecticut, from which they actually receive some benefit, while praising the governor of a state that they have been subsidizing through their federal taxes for decades and receiving nothing in return.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Florida isn’t particularly a model state for businesses, but it is a model state for low taxes and, because of that, retirees from the Northeast and northern Midwest. I’m not sure that the transfer in/out data you cite is current (Wikipedia article would suggest not) but it really wouldn’t be unexpected given historical demographic trends.

      People worked in Northeast and upper Midwest putting up with higher state taxes because that is where the higher paying jobs were. But as soon as they retire, a good number of them “vote with their feet” to lower tax jurisdictions. So, lots of Federal income tax generated from workers in CT and lot of Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid paid to retirees in FL is a pretty simple driver for revenue distribution disparities. And retirees don’t particularly care about business climate or schools as they are perfectly happy with lesser educated service workers.

      None of this should be credited (plus or minus) to Rick Scott – this is pretty much the way the state has been run for decades supported by all the ex New Yorkers/Chicagoans/Westporters, etc. who like it that way. Oh, and you will too if you retire there. And my money is you won’t retire there if their state tax system was like Connecticut’s.

      Funny thing is that is how CT (or at least Fairfield County) got to be such an affluent area – corporations and their executives fleeing high NY and NYC taxes for no income tax CT. Not particularly surprising that now that CT has similarly high personal and corporate taxes, those companies are repeating what the did before and doing what many of our neighbors have already done (and many of us are considering doing when we have a choice) – heading somewhere with lower taxes (and probably more generally cheaper to operate).

      Putting Florida aside, there are a number of lower tax jurisdictions that do have good business climates – that’s what Connecticut needs to come to grips with.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Jerry. Thanks for the comments.

        The issue in CT is more than lower tax states, it’s the financial issues inside our state. Which will not go away just because we want them to.

        I will have more to share after our meeting but the debt and liabilities are chocking CT. Everyday the interest compounds and the pension and OBEP liabilities grow. They don’t just disappear.

        Westport is a great example of leaders addressing and fixing what could have become devastating. We faced over $400 million in debt and liabilities and it was compounding everyday. With smart people in the BoF and town leadership, the cost curve was flattened. And hopefully they will be bent down.

        Unfortunately that is not what is happening in Hartford. So even if low tax states had to increase taxes, CT will be increasing more. And eventually as I have learned, the population moves out. Does Detroit sound familiar? Is CT turning into Illinois?

        I have lots of questions and hopefully they turn into answers. But the threat to all of us is real.

      • Jerry, the analysis I was referring to was done by the Economist in 2011 and covered the period of 1990-2009.

        Also, I don’t see how your suggestion re the retiree situation can explain the huge differential, As a percentage of the overall population, there’s not that large a difference between Florida and Connecticut, for example, because many senior citizens choose to remain in CT. The percentage of the population in FL that is 65 and over is 18-19%. The percentage of the population in CT that is 65 and over is 15-16%.

  6. Jill Christerson, Staples class of '74

    Rick Scott is one of the most ignorant men in politics. He, along with (Scott Walker) have destroyed the education system, environmental conditions, voting fairness, etc. etc. I am embarrassed he is even invited to my home state. What was TX Rick Perry busy?

    • The two Jills have it right.

      • Sharon Paulsen

        Hear hear to that!

        And, the crime rates have accelerated in “prime” coastal locations in Florida. I have family living on the islands off the gulf coast, and there was a time when “open doors” was the norm. Not so much now. Let’s just say, there’s no reason NOT to lock your doors there, anymore.

        Trickle down economics? – ha, not working. And EVERYONE is negatively affected – even the “prosperous and hard working and educated”.

        (So there, humph).

  7. Rhoda Berke

    I’m not at all proud to have Rick Scott as my governor. He is a disgrace and a criminal who should be in jail. He has truly ruined our state. I am shocked that your governor would even think of someone of such low caliber to speak in the wonderful state of Connecticut. (I lived in my ever-beloved Westport from 1976 till 2004). Rhoda Berke, Boca Raton, Fl.

  8. Interesting how the usually loquacious Mr. Shuldman has become suddenly silent. I eagerly await the many paragraphs to come telling me how CT should be more like FL, and what a stand-up guy Rick Scott is. LMAO.

    C’mon, really was 06880Danwoog acquired by the Onion.

  9. Werner liepolt


    Is the point of the Norwalk round table to move businesses to Florida?

  10. Bart Shuldman

    It had been interesting to read the comments. Most have decided to focus on a person and not the threat we all face. Our non-political event will instead, focus on what we can do to change the issues in CT and hopefully work to grow the jobs and businesses in CT.

    I have spoken to real estate agents and others who are worried that the housing market has slowed in Westport. Even with the huge strides our town has made to control spending, then’state’ news is causing concern. GE threatening to leave is not good for any of us. Even the threat of them leaving. If they decide to move executives to more friendly states it will not take long for the impact to be felt by all of us.

    I am very much looking forward to Friday, and instead of complaining, working towards solutions. If you don’t know, even with the current proposed tax increase, the Governor in his own budget forecast shows deficits in the following years. The problem is not going away and the deficits will continue. Taxes and or cut in services or both will also continue.

    I hope the conversation in 06880 turns to being more productive and some post suggestions I can bring to the roundtable. I will remain optimistic.

    • Bart;

      I think NY might have a good idea with this program.

      START-UP NY Offers Major Incentives for New Biz

      DUMBO loves startups. Now a new economic development incentive from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo makes it even more enticing to launch a business in the Big Apple (or, for that matter, the Brooklyn Tech Triangle.)

      START-UP NY is a new initiative from Governor Cuomo to create statewide tax-free zones and provide major incentives for businesses to relocate, start up or expand in New York State. Businesses will have the opportunity to operate state and local tax-free for ten years on or near academic campuses, and their employees will pay no state or local personal income taxes.

      Employees pay no income taxes on their wages for the first five years; employees will pay no taxes on income up to $200,000 of wages for individuals, $250,000 for a head of household, and $300,000 for taxpayers filing a join return. In addition, businesses may qualify for additional incentives.

      – See more at: http://dumbo.is/blog_posts/start-up-ny-offers-major-incentives-for-new-biz#sthash.Fx4OvlLh.dpuf

      • Economic development is a tough project these days, and I applaud Bart’s efforts to do something. However a cursory Goggle search will torpedo both Rick Scott’s record and Start-up NY’s: http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottbeyer/2015/04/18/cuomos-start-up-ny-highlights-failures-of-the-empire-state-development-corporation/

        As to a slowing housing market being something we need to correct, it seems pretty clear that we are nearing “overdone” for this stage of the cycle, and this time we have even lower interest rates than 7 years ago. How did those low interest rates work out for CT?

        I think the core problems are not being addressed by anyone other than talking heads trying to get elected on short term memory. Does anyone think that Fast Track trade authority is going to help CT’s situation? Or maybe one of the world’s biggest non-taxpayers, GE, should be able to pit CT against other states to give them MORE tax breaks? – Chris Woods

        • The conclusion reached in the article you cited was; NY will fail to create an adequate number of jobs unless it lowers tax rates.

          • Most of the EDC “cost” was actually in tax breaks, which returned much less than planned. Here’s a quote from another article:

            “His (Cuomo’s) START-UP NY plan is to cost $323 million in state revenue over three years. The funds go for 10-year tax breaks on income, sales, property and business taxes for firms that meet the governor’s criteria of being high-tech enough, adding new jobs and locating near a state college campus.”

            Every state, including CT, tries these programs and they all fail miserably. The data is conclusive: tax breaks to businesses as we structure them don’t trickle-down, every data point says the same thing.

            See yesterday’s scathing IMF report on the practice: http://qz.com/429487/a-new-imf-study-debunks-trickle-down-economics/

            • I agree with your summary of the impact of targeted temporary tax breaks; they almost never achieve the desired increase in economic activity. The authors of the article favored a permanent general decrease in the overall tax burden for all taxpayers.

    • Jeff Porter

      People pay to live in wonderful towns like Westport and States like Connecticut for the quality of life. One of the key issues impacting the housing market in Westport and other Fairfield County towns is the deteriorating transportation infrastructure and its impact on quality of life. Underfunded for decades, metro north trains are slow and unreliable. When I moved to Westport 12 years ago I could get a 59 minute express from Grand Central. Today I regularly spend 70-80 minutes per trip in each direction. For many people that is no longer considered an acceptable commute. But it costs money\taxes to run a railroad, provide a great education to our kids and maintain the qualities that make us want to live here. Companies like GE will always threaten, cajole and play governors against each other for their own benefit. But last I checked GE was pretty successful despite being located in the less friendly state of Connecticut.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Jeff. Thanks for your reply. To help understand the budget and how it has been misleading, there are taxes that are being earmarked for transportation. HOWEVER, almost the same amount is being removed from the general fund that was for transportation. In the first year of the new budget, NO extra money will be used to improve transportation despite the rhetoric. Unfortunately in the 2nd year of the budget, the Givernor is already projecting a deficit. Despite saying some new money will be available then, only $60 million against over a billion the state spends, there is a very good chance it gets eliminated as once again the state falls into a deficit. So we face aging transportation with no help insight. And let’s remember the Governor is spending hundreds of millions on a bus lane to Hartford.

        As for your comment about GE, I am sure they would disagree with you. Cost increases hurt their competitor stance and they have options to go to other states that will not only protect them from their taxes going up, they will see much savings. If you think that they and others are not starting to consider leaving the state, I would caution you. There is a cause and effect.

        • Hi Bart, We can disagree about where to spend the money but it’s obvious that an enormous amount of money will need to be spent to make up for decades of neglect. GE may indeed be thinking of leaving CT but it’s hard to buy into the argument that they can’t compete due to their tax burden. Companies like GE are enjoying historically low tax rates and have shown that they are quite adept at working the tax codes to insure they pay the lowest possible amount. A quick comparison of current corporate profit levels and the terrible fiscal situation many states and our federal budget find themselves in tell us that something is terribly out of balance. Just last night I was reading a newly-released UN report (see http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/wir2015_en.pdf) that estimates tax maneuvering by multinational corporations costs the US approximately $100 billion annually in lost tax revenue. This speaks to the bigger problem we’re facing not just in CT but across our nation. People and businesses want to enjoy the perks of living and doing business here but they don’t want to pay the cost of supporting it. As a result we are faced with a crumbling infrastructure of which Metro North is a prime example, and a myriad of other related issues. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. The sooner we face up to that the sooner we can get on track to help insure our children and grand children get to enjoy a lifestyle equal to or better than we have had the good fortune to.

          • Bart Shuldman

            Jeff. Thanks for the reply. I am glad you have the answers-I have questions, though.

            How about this question-if transportation is so needed, and I believe it is, then why does the new budget spend LESS in the first year of the new budget than it did in the current year? And while there is an excuse to raise taxes to pay for transportation needs, why does the amount drop? And then, why is the amount put into the 2nd year but it still is only $65 million more and it could get cut? We could face another deficit in just one more year and that money could get cut.

            There is no transportation lock box so nothing is guaranteed.

  11. Ernie Lorimer

    Last year I looked up Gulfport, Florida on Zillow and was quite impressed to see the schools getting rankings of 1 and 2. I looked up Westport and saw our schools were ranked all the way down at 10.

    I looked up the crime index of 363.9 for Gulfport and 61.3 for Westport. And the ratio of population to registered sex offenders is 503 to 1 in Gulfport and 6700 to 1 in Westport.

    And they have all those neat billboards for personal injury lawyers.

  12. I have spoken with three long-time Westport residents in the past week who are very seriously considering moving out of CT because of the terrible fiscal mess we are in. They stated it that bluntly.

  13. Yes, Diane–and Bart–there are unquestionably serious fiscal issues in CT. And, as Bart has posted before, there are unquestionably fiscal issues tied in with the funding of CT’s pension liabilities.

    But, as I have posted once before, there is a potential approach–one that is admittedly novel–that can provide a solution:
    “Bart, I’m aware of the issues related to CT’s pension liabilities. But a case could be made that this problem could be rectified by CT’s having the opportunity to, in essence, claw back the enormous transfer payments it has made on the federal level (as I have described above).

    As you know, private corporation pensions are protected up to a limit by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation as a result of the plan set up by the federal government that requires insurance premiums to be paid by corporations.

    I would argue that CT’s enormous surplus federal tax payments over the years could be viewed as the equivalent of the insurance premiums that are paid under the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Thus, there is a rational basis for the federal government to provide significant assistance to address CT’s pension liabilities.”

    Bart, I would love to see this idea thrown out to your roundtable. I don’t see why we can’t look to get CT Democrats and Republicans working toward this goal.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Fred. Thanks for your reply. I will be brining your idea on Friday. All ideas need to be in the conversation as the fiscal crisis in CT is at the critical stage. Any and all suggestion are needed and I thank you.

      I just read a report that more people have moved out than have moved into CT. As the population shrinks then the huge fiscal burden will be placed in you and me. Some parts of CT are seeing 10-20% declines. Businesses have moved out and have not been replaced. Schools in parts of CT are being shut down. I know this is different than what we see in Westport, but this could be us. GE leaving or moving jobs out will have that effect.

      I don’t want to read the famous sign.,.last one out shut the lights off…/

      • So Bart, is Florida and Rick Scott the model we should copy? Seems every state with about our business heritage is in the same negative situation as CT. And it seems that its hard to copy a southern state that doesn’t have income tax, a huge homeless population and a much lower standard of living. Is there a State that is doing a good job managing modern times, other than slight of hand?

        Does anyone have a reasoned check list of priorities and trade offs? Do we cut taxes (see yesterday’s IMF report against “trickle down”) while our transportation infrastructure continues to degrade? – Chris Woods

        • Bart Shuldman

          Chris. Thanks for your note. I understand your comments and I believe you are not understanding our effort and goal.

          In business we strive to bring the best people together to work on problems or build
          Products and markets. Since we have a serious issue in CT our goal is to bring smart people together and begin discussions about how we tackle the financial issues. We must first begin to work on a problem before we can fix it. Even though I have spent many many hours reading thru state budget reports,etc, I always believe 2 smart people working in a problem is better than 1, 3’is better than 2. In this case we have over 50 willing to take time from their busy schedules to begin the work.

          I, for one, think this is great. We what to fix the issue. We want to see CT do better.

          In addition, in business we like to underarm what our competitors have. Florida is a threat to CT, no doubt. You can say whatever you want but they are witnessing businesses move there and we are not. So I want to learn what they are doing and see how we can learn from it.

          Some will leave our state. No doubt. It is already starting. I have heard the stories and know how they feel. The atmosphere is not friendly in CT. And it is expensive and getting worse.

          But I want to try and fix what is broken. I want to understand what is broken and how we can use smart people to try and fix it. And I want to know how other states are doing it and doing it better.

          For that I continue to work on a great Meeting for Friday

          • Great idea, and terrific initiative, Bart. I just can’t imagine that FL and Rick Scott are the models/advice to work from. The gov. is clearly targeting CT businesses to move to FL, using the same short-sighted tactics that have eroded much of the fabric of our society and business environment. It just doesn’t seem possible for a politician to get elected without slight of hand budget numbers these days (Google “Rick Scott Jobs”) and those don’t seem to be your plan.

            Again, great idea and initiative… Chris Woods

  14. Richard Lowenstein

    This event sounds larded with partisan politics, though the organizers will probably deny it. But, res ipsa loquitur.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Dick. Once again your anger comes through. And your speculation is so far off its hard to try and respond directly to you.

      But for all those that read 06880, I will respond to you. I personally contacted political figures as did Steve to ask them not to attend. We have controlled the list of who can attend to insure this does not become political. No politician has been invited. Period.

      At no time did we ask what political party a participant favors. Period. And to prove the point, we invited someone who posted on 06880 who we never met. Hewants to help and of course he has been invited. And we hope he attends.

      Every citizen in CT is effected by the budget and tax crisis we face. Whether a union worker, a policeman or fireman or someone like me, we face a daunting situation in CT. As taxes rise and items like cutting $200 million from hospitals occur (Dick you just might want to do your research), we all face a difficult environment.

      Again, it does not surprise me to read such comments. But we will Continue to focus on the goal-putting smart people together, who have the desire to find solutions.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Dick-one last point. Representative Steinberg, out representative and a democrat, voted against the budget. If we had allowed a political figure to attend, he would have made the top of the list.

    • Sharon Paulsen

      Yup, this is getting icky’er by the moment.

      And, regarding Sy’s earlier comment … what was that prediction? … many “Paragraphs” to follow, to perhaps justify the reasoning (motives) behind all this?

      Well, that’s right – paragraphs abound! By many of us though.

      However, lots of good points brought up here too … Specifically by those who question the legitimacy of this particular “fix it forum”.

      I’m for innovative thinking and progressive change, and I’m not feeling that here with this upcoming “discussion/meeting”.

      Seems old ideas are being re-cocktailed, the same ingredients being tossed with the ice, but just in a different order, so as to “feel new, trendy”.

      The CT Martini – Shaken, Not Stirred.

  15. Jamie Walsh

    I commend Bart and Steves efforts and hope they have a successful kickoff. At least they are trying to do something positive. Those who actively criticize their efforts before they even have the first meeting are rushing to judgement. Governor Malloy wouldn’t even show his face for fear of possibly facing a few tough question or, more importantly, listening to how certain policy decisions are negatively impacting business. As an Independent, I have voted across the aisle several times, so I can say with confidence….some of the negative comments spelled out here are ripe with partisan opinions and exactly why we as a state and a country are “stuck in the mud.” Have an open mind… and move beyond your Democratic or Republican mindset. At least these two business men seem to want to do something and should be commended and not ridiculed. Connecticut is fast becoming a “death state” and many residents and friends I know are heading for the door. My wife and I are constantly weighing our option. We love Connecticut and especially Westport, but if things don’t change, we will take flight also…no choice as self preservation mode kicks in! Good luck tomorrow!

    • Jill Lundgren, Staples '74

      Odd, according to everyone except fox “news” the country is doing remarkably well getting the American people out of the Great Recession George W. left us. 12.6 jobs lost, skyrocketing bankruptcies and foreclosures. Having lived in the south for quite sometime, I can tell you that after the largest medicare fraud settlement in the history of this country, he can be blamed for destroying Florida.

      • Jamie Walsh

        Jill, have you traveled around the country lately? I have…and it is not the economic picture of health you describe it to be… As for placing the blame on Bush’s shoulders…well he was no bargain…but either is Obama. How about being “fair and balanced” and agree that all the media from FOX to MSNBC are a bunch of blowhards. The days of report just the facts seem a thing of the past. The need to fill the 24 hours of air time are creating the further dumbing of our country and we are losing critical thinkers to drones who believe what they hear. Let’s be better then that. People need to come together and play nice in the sandbox. This also applies to us as Americans. This is a cumulative effect that rests squarely on the shoulders of all our leadership….or lack thereof….in Washington.

        • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

          Jamie, first I have been, and have relatives, all over the country and they (Dems and Reps) are buying new houses, getting settled into jobs, etc. It may not be great but it’s a hell of a lot better. GWB’s shoulders?? Well, “Great Recession” a “war for no reason” the largest attack on the US EVER even after being warned, thousands of dead soldiers and civilians, the largest wage gap between rich/poor, THOSE things are directly on “W”s shoulders. What has Obama done to affect you directly?? The stock market has doubled, gas prices are down, unemployment is down, most soldiers are home and no one in Obama’s administration took huge kickbacks from the Iraq (AKA Cheney’s War) war. FOX news watchers are among the least intelligent people in the country, O’Reilly’s lies are legend. It is mainly the GOP who elicits hate for everyone: black, Hispanic, Asian, gay, trans, Jews, Catholics (in some cases), non-religious, non-Christians, Democrats, Liberals, non-NRA members, women. Say what you will but the “Tea Party” and other Reps have polarized this country so severely that level heads and anti-hate must prevail. The US cannot survive another year of politicians like Bush/Cheney.

          • Bush will not be running in 2016.

          • Jill, I certainly am not defending Bush’s decision to make a hard left turn and go into a dragged out war in Iraq….but let’s face it….even Hillary and some prominent Democrats supported this decision. Yes a bad decision! I certainly think Cheney is a bad…bad actor… But blaming the GOP for hateful positions against Blacks, Hispanics! gays Trans, Jews, Catholics…Martians and well, the Lochness Monster…is just silly. It is this kind of thinking and attitude that perpetuates devisive and create discord as opposed to all working together to find solution and common ground.

            • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

              Jamie, the GOP’s hatred for nearly every group is certainly not silly or funny to those people. If you honestly think that the GOP is not prejudiced, you need to get out of the house more.Yes, many good politicians fell for the Bush admin’s lies and deceit (remember there were NO WMDs), and you can’t forget the “the terror alerts” that went up to red every time Bush or Cheney were about to be found out or something went wrong for the GOP? After the decision came down today many on the right were screaming “it’s not over” after taking Obamacare legislation to court 62 times! The elected republicans filibustered more bi-partisan bills under the Obama than at any other time in our history. Divisive is what many in the GOP strive for, “common ground” is not in the GOP handbook.

              • Jamie Walsh

                Jill I travelled over 250,000 miles last year for mostly business…so I get out of the house more than I really want… As much as the Bush administration was disaterious…so has the Obama administration. We are a joke on the world stage…Obamacare has been nothing short of a disaster for so many…and the Middleast is being ripped apart because Obama withdrew troops to soon and created a vacuum…ISIS is in our backyard now and we are about to enter another chapter of horrific terrorism on our shores….he traded 5 terrorist for one cowardly punk…I served our country in the military…and know firsthand how low the morale of so many who served felt under his leadership. He has relied on the likes of Al Sharpton for race relations advise. You unfortunately…are just as one sided as the teapartiers. You obviously are so far left and they are so far right. Finding common ground and working towards the middle is a Much better approach and one I personally embrace. Mudslinging and playing the blame game is why nothing gets accomplished in Washington and will continue to paralyze and stunt our leadership domestically and on the world stage.

                • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

                  Everyone has their opinions, however I have learned that today’s Bush defenders are much like the rabid Reagan worshippers. 90% of what is said about either of them (from supporters) is simply untrue. Where do you think ISIS evolved from? Our country’s random war and destruction of the country of Iraq? Sadly, yes they are a creation of Bush/Cheney. That war knocked our country’s credit rating out of #1 for the first time ever, countries around the world were/are still pissed off that B/C and “Rummy” Rumsfeld lied to them about WMDs which never existed, putting their troops in harm’s way. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to engage our allies in another war anytime soon. Bush’s approval rating at the end of his “reign” was 22% of all Americans. Face it, he sucked, tho I will say that most of his really bad decisions were linked to Cheney, he was very naïve. Reagan became a “god” many years after he left office. I HONESTLY heard the first complaints about Pres Obama BEFORE he was even in the White House. I don’t care what anyone says (NO NO) but complaints were not aimed at him as a President (since he was in name only the first couple of days) but as a minority. Just how ignorant is that?

                • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

                  Sorry forgot. Were the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan etc. during the war, have high morale?? I never saw that!.
                  I hope I don’t have to explain this to another right winger, the troop withdrawal was ORDERED BY BUSH, the times, the number of troops, everything. Assuming that you are on the right, why do we on the left have to explain what YOUR President did or didn’t do?

                  • Obama has been president since January of 2009. How long before he owns up to his own record and stops blaming everyone else? The negative real growth in the first quarter of 2015, almost six years since the recession ended, is part of Obama’s record not Bush’s. The decline in median real personal income since 2009 is part of Obama’s record, not Bush’s. Obama has had over six years to formulate his own foreign policy; now he must own it.

                    S&P lowered the credit rating in 2011; Obama was president. They did not cite the war in Iraq, but they did cite the inability of the US Government to either increase revenues or reduce the growth of entitlement spending.

                    • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

                      Because Obama walked into the White House in 2009, does not mean Bush’s Great Recession was over. The entire country was in turmoil, plus the Bush/Cheney wars and Medicare Pert D had not been paid for, in fact they were never put on the books to be paid. 12.5 million jobs had just disappeared, people were losing their houses, their businesses, their retirement plans and 401ks.
                      Our rating was lowered because there was no confidence that the Rep Congress would end the BUSH tax cuts to the rich or the vast entitlements he showered on CEOs and the 1%ers.
                      The reps have filibustered and blocked more legislation than at any other time in our history. You cannot filibuster, block, not take it to the floor the majority of the time and then turn around and say “well Obama doesn’t get anything done!”
                      Obama isn’t perfect but I am amazed when Bush’s performance rating was 20-22% that now reps have completely forgotten all they lost?
                      Just a thought, Obama walked in to office when the US economy was disastrous, Bush walked in with a SURPLUS thanks to Clinton.

                  • Jamie Walsh

                    You are so full of disdain for anyone who has a different view from yours that you failed to focus on the fact that I am an Independent and again did not think Bush was right and I do agree with you about Cheney as I elaborated in earlier posts…but you are just as guilty of spewing hate and blaming others…. finding some common ground and letting go of your anger might be a better place to harness your energy… You will live a longer and more peaceful life! Namaste Jill…Namaste!!!

                    • Jill has rewritten history in her head. You and Bart are going to be very disappointed if you think her sort of blind partisanship will ever allow for a compromise. Frankly, you might be careful what you wish for. When politicians cooperate to “get things done”, the usual result is an increase in taxes, an increase in spending, or both.

                    • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

                      I am sorry you feel that way. Another right responsehowever . You post a list of mistruths, lies and myths, I assumed you wanted the truth so I told you. This has nothing to do with people agreeing or disagreeing with me, it has to do with fact and fiction. If one of us doesn’t like a fact that is our own problem.

                    • Sharon Paulsen

                      Jill, I’m with you on your latest point! (it might be buried earlier up in the thread, as I see many more comments coming in afterwards).

                      Anyway, Facts are facts, and rhetoric is rhetoric.

                      I see plenty dissonance and manipulative reactiveness occurring in this discussion, and at the end of the day, we still all face the same darn facts. And those cannot be re-negotiated to fit any agenda.

                      Defensiveness abounds for now, but perhaps and hopefully soon, that will be unnecessary.

                      It’s a changing climate, and the “old” thinking doesn’t quite work in the “new” awareness anymore.

                      History need NOT repeat itself over and over and over again. We have a choice, and thankfully a voice.

                      Insanity defined: doing or thinking the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results (my version, that is).

                      This applies to both sides of the coin. It doesn’t allow for “reasoned” excuses (note to the hard right, this DOES apply to you too).

                    • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

                      Thank you!

                    • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

                      Probably stupid of me but what exactly is Namaste?

      • According to the Obama administration real GDP fell in the first quarter. I think the economic environment is not consistent with the claim “the country is doing remarkably well.” Economic growth is not robust; it is not even above average.

        • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

          I said “remarkably well” comparing to the ruins that the Bush/Cheney regime left us in

        • Jill Christerson-Lundgren

          Rewrite history? Where would that be? I get my facts from NYT, WSJ and google. Check wiki too. Your sources would be?

          • My sources would be the NBER and the BLS, and the US Census. The recession ended in June of 2009 (NBER). It has been six years since then and economic growth was negative in the first quarter of 2015. That falls on Obama’s watch, there is no one else responsible. George Bush did not cut taxes, he cut tax rates. He did not cut rates only for the 1%. Obama has raised tax rates on the middle class. During the six years since the end of the the recession, real median household income has declined, and the Gini Coefficient has increased. How did that happen? It was Bush’s fault? The bond ratings were lowered on Obama’s watch in 2011. Was that Bush’s fault? The Republicans did not control Congress in 2011, they controlled the House, that is a fact. There was no operating budget surplus when Bush took office, that is another fact. There was no need to end the Bush tax rate cuts, they were set to expire; that is a fact.

            Clinton governed with a divided government. Reagan governed with a divided government. Bush governed with a divided government, but Obama can’t govern with a divided government. Why is that?

  16. “Florida Gov. Rick Scott will visit Hartford Thursday as part of a two-day swing through Connecticut to lure businesses to the Sunshine State.”


    Not sure giving him a forum to sell his idea of how bad CT is, along with fabricated numbers of his own success is productive but your heart’s in the right place Bart – Chris Woods

    • You can’t blame Governor Scott for trying. I remember when CT was trying to lure business from neighboring states on the basis of its low tax rates; no income tax.

      There are variables in addition to tax rates influencing a decision to stay or leave.
      Ultimately the market will sort things out.
      Currently individuals are revealing their preferences; CT population growth is among the very slowest among all of the states.

  17. Bart Shuldman

    Two Westporters (Steve Obsitnik and Bart Shuldman) worked to bring together small and medium size business leaders throughout to address the current budget proposal and the upcoming tax increases. Steve set out the goal for the group with his opening comments-not to complain or be political and point fingers, but to start a meaningful conversation as to what can be done to begin to fix what is broken in Connecticut.
    Then Bart Shuldman spent time speaking to the group of many to detail some of the issues that will still exist in Connecticut, despite the coming tax increases. He went on to explain that the debt in Connecticut is now over $20 billion, and by 2018 will probably grow to $24 billion. Next, he discussed the remaining liabilities facing Connecticut, again, despite the new budget and tax increases. The current pension plan, which a lot is unfunded, is another $20 billion. However, as he explained, Moody’s after reviewing the numbers claim the liability is closer to $40 billion. Teacher pensions and Other Post Employee Benefits add another $20 billion in liabilities. And maybe more. Depending on whether you look at it with truthful eyes, the state is approaching $100 billion in liabilities. This is 5 times the current budget. The pension obligations are the worst in the US, except Illinois. And with the state not fully funding the liabilities, they are not only growing as more people retire, but are growing as more money is needed to make up for what has not been set aside.
    The reality of the burden on each and every resident in Connecticut set the tone for the discussion. As we all know, debt and obligations do not go away. You have a mortgage, you owe the money. The state borrows money, the state must pay. The state promises our teachers pensions and medical benefits, we should honor it. But the situation in Connecticut is dire, and the new budget and taxes does nothing to make it better.
    Discussions took place as to what to do. Do people in Connecticut really understand the situation? Do people in Westport understand that the financial condition in Connecticut can only get worse? Do people in Westport know that the transportation needs in Fairfield County cannot be improved as money is needed just to fund the unfunded obligations and the deficits in the general fund? And the budget, which we are told will use money towards transportation, when reviewing the actual budget, it does not.
    And it was explained when this budget period is over, starting in 2018, the forecast is for more deficits again. And those deficits are based on very rosy economic projections, and if wrong, could leave the state with the worst deficit in its history.
    There is no doubt the meeting grabbed everyone’s attention. Some spoke of their issues, their costs to do business, their fear for their employees. Some spoke of what to do. Some spoke of knowing people who want to move out of Connecticut. But most important, everyone agreed we need to do something. And that was the best outcome of the meeting, that all would try and work to do whatever is possible to begin to fix Connecticut. Before it is too late.
    The meeting ended with a very motivating speech by Governor Rick Scott of Florida. He spoke about what he did in Florida to pay down their huge amount of debt, and to begin to address the states obligations. And he spoke, and everyone listed, about how he has created a state where businesses and people want to move. Compare that to Connecticut, where 55% of all moves registered over the last 10 years have been households moving out of the state of Connecticut, a troubling statics provided by the 2 largest moving companies.
    What motivated everyone was to hear from Governor Scott that it can be done. Taxes do not have to increase and debt and obligations do not have to grow if the leader and the community support change. A state can become more productive and costs do not have to rise at the state level if the Governor wants to fix the ills. And a state can create a community where business can flourish, people want to move in not out, and services can be offered. It just takes leadership and the commitment.
    The morning was a real success. Most left concerned, but also left knowing that things can change. And they must.

    • And what discussion took place of the proposal I put forth here on 06880?

      • Bart Shuldman

        Fred. The round table decided not to get into particular ideas, instead talking about how to use the 60+ business leaders that attended to make change. Since we only had about 45 minutes, the group took the time to get to know each other and just get their ideas into a discussion. I will share your idea as we develop our plans.

        What was great about the meeting was the willingness of everyone to begin. And we heard from someone who actually made change.

        This was only the beginning. More to come!! We have to.

        • Bart, I applaud you for exploring new ideas and solutions. But if you’re looking to do something in a bipartisan way and spirit, I don’t think that looking to emulate Rick Scott is going to bring a lot of Democrats to the table. You can see from some of the comments posted here what a polarizing figure he is.

  18. Richard Lowenstein

    From today’s Connecticut Post:


    Florida’s message to Conn. : You educate them; we’ll bury them. Look at the numbers (from http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html):

    In fiscal ’13 Florida spent $8,433 per pupil (down from $9.875 in fiscal ’08). Comparable figures for Connecticut: $16,631 up from $15,1336.

    Florida, a home for the 1%?

    • Rick Scott is a politician who, like all politicians, touts job creation numbers that no one else agrees with: http://media.miamiherald.com/static/media/projects/2013/rick-scotts-jobs-record/part-1/

      I applaud Bart’s efforts and care, but outside local politics, narrow, financial self-interest has taken over our government. Anyone thinking otherwise is missing the point of the exercise and being used for other people’s ends. Rick Scott certainly wasn’t here to help CT. At least he was honest about that.

      Every example of “tackling the hard economic problems” of health, education, defense and welfare for the last 30 years has ended up a zero-sum game with a few winners and everyone else losers. The data is clear across the country and in every state: we have the most expensive education, healthcare, housing and defense in the world, the most profitable companies and highest paid managers, the lowest effective taxes and the fewest regulations….but with the worst outcomes for the average citizens. That trend has been increasing for 30 years.

      As they say, if you’re playing poker and you don’t know who the ‘mark’ is, it’s you.

      Citizens, no matter how well-meaning, are no match for professional politicians these days. And we are all apparently happy to vote for whomever makes the loudest promises, without any expectation of their being carried out or without looking at the obvious data. It’s been that way for 30 years. – Chris Woods

  19. As the CT GOP ponders its continued irrelevancy, consider this…

    “I am unabashedly interested in getting every job you have in Connecticut in Florida,” Scott said. “I’m going after all of the jobs.”


    • Bart Shuldman

      Flying the confederate flag is disgusting. I would hope this guy steps down from his position.

  20. Bart Shuldman

    I appreciate that some of you do not like the fact that Governor Scott spoke to the group of Business leaders. However it was very helpful to hear from the Governor and how he is leading his state. My takeaway as I have said before, we can fix what ails us in CT.

    Just yesterday our State Rep-Steinberg posted an Op-Ed piece on another location. I hope all read it and I applaud Representative Steinberg for how he voted and being honest.

    I found the following from his Op-Ed piece interesting as he is in a position to know. I can only say he gives good reason for why we had our meeting and it should sound a loud message of concern to all of you. CT is in trouble:
    By Jonathan Steinberg

    I voted against the budget, just as I did four years ago, dissenting from Governor Malloy and the majority of my fellow democrats
    I don’t like voting against budgets, but I will continue to place sound fiscal policy ahead of partisanship and will press for sensible reforms. We need to proactively manage our budgets, not just paper them over each year through the use of gimmicks and fudges.

  21. Bart Shuldman

    While there have been lots os posts lately about the past, our furture was just put in jeapardy once again. Connectcit just passed the new 2 year budget and we spend more when we cannot pay off our debt and cannot fund our pension oblibations, teachers pensio obligations and Other Post Employee Benefits (OPEB). And Conencticut will borrow much more money.

    Ø The budget passed for the next two years with spending increases and higher taxes and the State borrowing more. And the budget projects a deficit in 2017, which is projected to be over $800 million. Nothing gor resolved, nothing got solved and the debt and obligations continue to grow!!
    Ø Spending increases the first year 2015-2016 by a large 3.9%
    Ø Spending increases the 2nd year (2016-2017) by another 3%
    Ø The tax increase to data processing and internet services has been rolled back
    Ø The unity tax on corporations has been delayed by one year which is a major issue for large corporations. Does this give GE a year to move?
    Ø The budget deficit in 2017 is based on very rosy economic predictions. If they do not happen, Connecticut could face the largest deficit ever
    Ø Also, the Governor has already informed Wall Street that the state will borrow dramatically more money going forward

    Ø $2.8 billion in new debt has been approved for transportation. However, there will be no ‘lock box’ to insure this debt will ONLY be used for transportation projects. In fact, the money generated from the bonded debt can be used for other items in the general fund.
    Ø Much of the money from the bonds will be focused on ‘design’ work for highway and bridge repairs for the first 5 years
    Ø The money to pay for the transportation projects is supposed to come from the increase in tax receipts associated with the new budget
    Ø However, it is already projected that there will be an $832 million deficit beginning July 1, 2017—2 years from now. This large deficit is more than double the tax receipts earmarked by the Governor for these transportation projects. So—it appears the tax receipts could end up being used to cover the coming budget deficit

    How do you feel leaving your children with this mess?

    As people who can move out of Conenctcut begin the process, and they will, who is left to pay the bills that will come due? Lower income and middle class residents and senior citizens too. So the horrible financial situation inside Conenctiticut will be borne by the very people who we are being told we are helping.

    • Bart Shuldman

      The effect of the current business climate set by the Governor and leadership in Hartford is just beginning. There are other companies loving out of CT and not just to Florida. Since our meeting over 750 jobs are leaving. Add in the effect on other local businesses and the net effect is not good.

      We cannot avoid job loses when we have leadership in Hartford that raises Spending when we cannot afford it, raises taxes on residents businesses and hospitals and still forecasts deficits in the years to come.

      Those that can move will look to leave if they feel they have had ‘enough’. Those that normally cannot leave (lower income and middle class) will be left to pay the high costs set by the Governor and his leadership. A recent article claims state workers are paid over 40% more than their counter part in the private sector.

      The Governor claims he is doing what progressives want to see-raise tax and spend more. However the net effect will be to hurt those he thinks he is helping. The tax burden by the high debt and unbelievable pension and other liabilities will be put on the shoulders of those that stay.

      It is so sad to see what is happening in CT. When you spend a night like Thursday at the fireworks you see the best in CT. But hiding behind the facade is the broke CT.