Assembly Budget Officer Declan O'Scanlon sent a bold signal today that it would be extremely irresponsible for any Legislator to cast a vote in favor of any TTF plan if there was any chance that the flawed pension payment constitutional amendment might be placed on the ballot.
"No legislator from either party can cast a responsible vote on any TTF plan until we know if the disastrously flawed Democrat constitutional amendment will be on the ballot. If the Senate Democrats irresponsibly vote to place the amendment on the ballot they are voting to put any TTF decision off until after November - at least.
It really is that simple. Whether you support the gas tax/TTF plan or oppose it - there is no way to cast an informed vote on such an impactful policy with such uncertainty hanging over our heads.
The Democrats pension payment constitutional amendment is unquestionably fatally flawed. Even if you believe we have an obligation to make payments, as do I, the amendment has three flaws that MUST be fixed. If they are not fixed, passage of the amendment will likely lead to a fiscal meltdown - with massive tax increases and cuts to programs from tuition aid, to school aid, to aid to our most needy, to property tax relief. It would crush everyone. If we have even a mild recession - which is highly likely over the next few years - the amendment would be the source of a fiscal superstorm."
The three fatal flaws:
--No safety valve. With absolutely no flexibility we will have to devote $300 to $400 million additional dollars EVERY YEAR over the next 5 years to build a responsible surplus. An economic downturn - even a mild, no-growth recession - would force massive spending cuts and tax increases. This, and the payment mandates themselves, would crowd out spending on virtually anything else - including transportation.
--Quarterly Payments. If quarterly payments are obligated we could face economic calamity as outlined above - even were there to be a safety valve included.
--No reforms tied to amendment. Without including cost-saving reforms in a package that includes a reasonable amendment we set our state on course for massive tax increases and essential program cuts. For our state to remain solvent - without crushing taxpayers - we must make reasonable and fair spending cuts. If this doesn't happen as part of a negotiated, simultaneously enacted package, it never will. I have proposed a bill package that is exactly such a plan.
"In short, if we pass the Dems amendment as is, we will have to postpone or cut all spending on everything - including transportation - until we have built up a multi-$ billion surplus. That will take at least 3 to 5 years. Is that outrageous? Absolutely. Will it lead to major infrastructure failures and issues? It sure would. But it is exactly what Democrats will be voting for if they vote to place this dangerously and fatally flawed constitutional amendment on the ballot. Doing so will also mandate that every responsible legislator vote against any TTF plan until the amendment is defeated."
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