Thursday, May 14, 2009

If Money Talks, Who's Listening?

All across Connecticut, towns and municipalities are practicing their ability to walk on eggs while holding their breath, knocking on wood and keeping their fingers crossed (mine already are-you can tell by my typing). In Connecticut, despite the calendar which starts in January and ends in December, the fiscal year starts 1 July--meanwhile the Federal government starts its fiscal year on 1 October. You can't tell the budgets without a calendar.....get yer red hot calendars....

Cities and towns whose sole power to tax is restricted to property are busy measuring three (or more times) and cutting once all across the state as many, like Norwich, have requirements to have an approved budget for the next fiscal year by a date rapidly approaching in the upcoming month.

They should be nervous-a great deal of their budget depends on allocations from the state of Connecticut and the hard times that you and I are having, living wherever we live where that town is ALSO having a hard time, is only compounded at the state level. And, let's face it, no matter the state and no matter the town, if the choice comes down to a program or position in the Capital or one someplace in the 'boondocks', guess who's going to win? Color me surprised only as long as we can afford crayons.

But, as is so often the case in The Land of Steady Habits, the Governor, a Republican, and the Legislature, almost overwhelmingly Democratic, haven't agreed on the next budget (and really aren't within shouting distance of one another) and until/unless that happens, the 168 municipalities at the lowest level of participatory democracy, our hometowns, are in limbo. Any guess they make on State dollars can, and the laws of probability suggest, will, be wrong.

We go through this around here, to varying degrees, every year. And every year we all get a case of the heebie-jeebies and vow to 'fix' this 'broken system' and then suffer amnesia when the crisis passes. As a matter of fact, since it's so familiar and recurs so often, I'm not sure if 'crisis' is even an appropriate word to describe it.

It's not must-see TV by any means, but for a few weeks, all of us Nutmeggers watch the evening news a bit closer, open our local daily newspapers to the "Capital Doings" section before we hit the sports page, but after the comics (there has to be a constant in the universe), and generally muddle through with a stoic smile as if we were under siege.

Better a horrible end, than horrors without end, I suppose, but this annual dance could end with very little effort, if we could all sit together and work it out.
After all, money talks. And some days you can't get a word in edgewise.
-bill kenny

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