Of the thousands of billboard advertisements in Connecticut, those placed along I-84 in Hartford must be some of the most viewed. The reason is not simply the number of commuters who travel that highway on a daily basis, but also the fact that those commuters are very often stuck in traffic. If you’re just sitting there you might as well read something, right?
I found myself in that very situation several weeks ago. Staring up at an electronic billboard between exit 47 and 46 going east, I was confronted by a simple red McDonald’s advertisement for one dollar iced coffee. The ad simply read, “Living here is expensive enough”.
The slogan is both clever and accurate; for chilled coffee lovers, a one dollar alternative is surely a welcome reprieve.
However, the billboard is also an embarrassingly truthful reflection on the state of Connecticut. Living here is incredibly expensive, a fact reflected in numerous national ratings and lists.
For example, CityRating.com found that the Consumer Price Index in Connecticut is 9.38 percent higher than the national average, meaning that goods cost approximately 9 cents more per dollar in the Nutmeg state. In addition, FindTheData.org reports that every Connecticut metro area, as well as rural Connecticut, has a higher cost of living than the national average
The Connecticut tax burden is equally high; in 2012, citizens worked until May 5th to pay off their taxes, the latest Tax Freedom Day in the nation. The state’s corporate income tax is 9 percent, tied as the 7th highest in the nation. The individual income tax is the 18th highest in the nation, but in 2010 income tax collections per person were the 4th highest nationally.
These figures might lead citizens to wonder why Connecticut is such an expensive place to live, so expensive that a multinational corporation has based their marketing technique in the state around that fact.
The answer, at least partly, has to do with the reckless, runaway spending in our state government. Barron’s rated Connecticut’s debt and unfunded pension obligations, at 17.1 percent of GDP, the worst in the nation in 2012. The Institute for Truth in Accounting calculating the state’s debt burden to be $49,000 per taxpayer.
That amounts to a hefty bill to be paid by the state. It’s no wonder (but also no less despicable) that Governor Malloy has tried to squeeze more money from Connecticut citizens through new taxes, fees, and accounting gimmicks.
Connecticut is an expensive place to live, and unless state spending is reined in, it will only get worse. Get your one dollar coffees while you can.