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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mr. Barnum's Stopwatch

With all the screaming and shouting (a/k/a 'negotiating') that's gone on here in The Nutmeg State since 1 July, when we were supposed to start the state's new fiscal year and some ten days ago when the State Legislature and the Governor finally devised a means of creating a budget, I smiled when I fell across this item the other day in "America's oldest continuously published newspaper" (though in recent years they've forgotten the point of why), the Hartford Courant.

For those who think it's the purest of coincidences that P. T. Barnum is a native son of Bethel, Connecticut, this is your 2009 wake up call. And, I suspect with a little luck, and (of course) a separate fee, you'll be able to get a special license plate celebrating this realization.

Our new motto in The Land of Steady Habits is "It's All About the Benjamins" as our recently enacted state budget is, in many areas, says freshman legislator Chris Coutu, little more than a wish sandwich--and we may also be light on those two slices of bread.

I'm terrible with money, ask my creditors, but even I get sweaty palms when I look at math that adds revenues from yet-to-be collected taxes to profits from the sale of not-yet-identified public buildings to unspecified and possibly imaginary purchasers with all the proceeds (plus the profits) of the State Lottery which were already going to the General Fund and roll all of them together with every dollar in the "Rainy Day" fund to (we hope) produce a balanced budget. Phew!

Of course what we'll do at the next budget cycle, aside from a Hail Mary pass, is now somebody elses' problem. The trick is not to be in the state house or the Governor's mansion when the next cycle arrives. I think there are a lot of voters, right now, across the State who are willing to help make that happen.

What the Courant article doesn't make clear to me is, if after 1 October, the Save the Sound and/or Greenways and/or Wildlife special license plates will no longer be sold at all or if just the money collected for them will be 'repurposed.' If you've lived here for more than an hour you've probably already guessed just how forthcoming and forthright the disclosure on this fiscal sleight of hand will probably be.

We're not talking a lot of money here, really. In the face of an almost thirty-eight Billion (with a B) dollar budget for the next two years, it's not even pin money. And, hand on your heart, how many more seagulls should we need to worry about and how do we even know they're day trippers from maybe Long Island or Rhode Island (did you smell coffee milk tinged with mackeral?)?

Point in fact, much of the Connecticut shoreline on the Long Island Sound is private property anyway, and even those with the special license plates can't have access to it. The only time the rest of us have anything to do with the shoreline is after hurricane season when someone is sought to help pay for repairs and rebuilding (usually on exactly the same spot where the damages all happened in the first place).

Let's hope The Barnum Museum withstands this hurricane season, at least through Saturday, to help observe Talk like a Pirate Day. Some of us will have to work on our accents, since we sound an awful lot like like legislators from Wethersfield, well, except for the license plates of course.
-bill kenny

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill,
The Republicans are running 4 candidates for City Council this year.

dweeb said...

I'm happy to hear that, though I'm not sure I fully realize who it is (hopefully someone tall, so I can see their point). Thanks for the tip!