Government and Politics
March 24, 2013
David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the US from 1998 to 2008 and a recognized expert on federal financial and operational issues, recently has spoken out in connection with financial and good government issues in his current home state of Connecticut.
Having moved to the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, CT from Alexandria, VA three years ago, Walker notes warmly that he's been impressed with the people and the quality of life in Connecticut. At the same time, in addition to the high cost-of-living, he reflects on "three shocking facts that serve to threaten the state's financial future and domestic tranquility."
"The first is that a loophole in a state law passed in the early 1990s has resulted in some city and town employees serving on their respective City and Town Councils," says Walker, "even if it is contrary to the City or Town Charter that was ratified by local voters." He adds that "this is a direct violation of basic good governance principles, especially given the huge and readily apparent conflicts of interest in situations when such individuals express their views and vote on City/Town budget and labor contract matters."
To address this problem, Walker encourages citizens to press their elected officials to support HB 5724, which he has endorsed as "a nonpartisan and good government bill" and is currently pending in the state legislature. "After all," Walker notes, "poor governance practices in cities and towns can force the state to assume additional local obligations over time. The result would be even higher taxes for all Connecticut taxpayers."
A CPA and former Trustee for Social Security and Medicare, Walker is also concerned that Connecticut has the highest liabilities and unfunded promises per taxpayer of all 50 states, "largely due to huge underfunded pension plans and unfunded retiree health obligations." Walker adds that, "given Connecticut's relatively poor economic performance and job creation record", Connecticut's already high taxes are likely to increase, "unless there are truly transformational reforms".
Finally, Walker points out that Connecticut is one of only two states in the union that does not have county government. As a result, Walker suggests, "Connecticut has become a land of disparities", a point he feels is particularly problematic in connection with Connecticut's K-12 education system and local property tax burdens. "While I do not advocate adding another layer of government, voluntary regional agreements are needed in order to provide government services in a more economical and efficient manner," explains Walker. "In addition, in the absence of county government, the state needs to step up and address some of these disparities before the resulting inequities threaten the state's domestic tranquility."
A long-time public servant and outspoken independent voice for serious and bi-partisan approaches to governmental financial and other problems, Walker's national stature may bring new focus and attention to these issues. At the same time, it is clear that Connecticut has a new resident who is not afraid to speak the truth as he sees it.