Lamont’s pension shift would leave CT’s children deep in debt

Forget tolls, sports betting fees, or even marijuana taxes.

The largest bill proposed in the next state budget will be shouldered, eventually, by Connecticut’s children.

Faced with another multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, Lamont and Democratic lawmakers are weighing whether to shift billions of dollars in pension debt — plus a hefty interest charge — onto the next generation of taxpayers.

Lamont’s idea, which he sketched out for lawmakers in February, would restructure the state’s pension contributions over the next 13 years to save roughly $9.1 billion.

Future taxpayers would have to replace that $9.1 billion plus all of the earnings today’s taxpayers forfeited by not saving and investing those funds on schedule.

In other words, for us to save $9.1 billion now, the next generation would be stuck paying an extra $27.2 billion.

“This is all screwed up,” said Rep. Anne Hughes, D-Easton, co-chairwoman of the House Democratic Progressive Caucus, who said Connecticut has other resources it could tap before mailing another bill to its children. “There are people who are willing to be part of the solution now.”

The alternatives, however, are vastly unappealing.

They include ordering the fourth state income tax hike in a decade, gutting aid to cities and towns, or raiding Connecticut’s reserves in the hope that the next recession is still several years away.

And while the new governor says Connecticut’s economy simply can’t bear another tax hike, some lawmakers are balking at asking the state’s youth for a second bailout in three years.

“There are no easy choices,” said Lamont’s budget director, Melissa McCaw. “But if we are to grow Connecticut and the solution is not to increase taxes, then difficult and unpleasant choices … have to…

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