Setting the Stage…

Posted on August 18, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Welcome to the Connecticut Society of CPAs blog!

“CPAs: Accounting for Connecticut’s Future” is our legislative blog and will hopefully serve as a tool as we ramp our efforts to get involved and try to help solve Connecticut’s fiscal crisis.  We can share ideas here and, of course, make plans for future advocacy efforts.

A taskforce has formed to spearhead our efforts, so you can expect to see a number of opinions posted – and we want yours, too. We only ask that you be respectful of others and focus on constructive criticism; all posts will be moderated and we do reserve the right to make necessary decisions.

I encourage you to join us in our efforts. You all know Connecticut’s businesses better than anyone – your know-how can be invaluable to the state’s decision-makers. 

I’ll leave you here with the open letter from our executive director, Art Renner, that appeared in the May/June 2010 issue of Connecticut CPA. The words below are exactly why we are here and why we’re trying. It’s time to act!

An excerpt from Art’s open letter to our members:

“Regular readers of the Connecticut CPA probably realize that I’m not a frequent writer in the publication. In fact, when I think about it, this is only my second or third contribution during my tenure. I confess to this to underscore how serious I believe my topic is: Connecticut’s fiscal health.

When I joined the CSCPA as executive director, volunteer leadership advised me that the organization’s nature should remain apolitical. We were only to comment on issues that directly affected the accounting profession or comment on the administrative aspects of proposed taxes. To comment on political matters was too risky; we might alienate government leaders. In light of our current state fiscal dilemma, I believe it is now time to rethink this policy.

During the 2009 legislative session a number of proposed ‘solutions’ surfaced for the budgetary deficit facing Connecticut. In the end, the budget adopted for the 2009-2011 period did not address any of the real problems facing our state. It merely delayed the day of reckoning. This inertia set the stage for what will be an extremely difficult and important budget debate in the 2011 legislative session.

While I have numerous concerns about Connecticut’s long-term financial situation, the apparent lack of appreciation or understanding exhibited by the leadership of Connecticut’s legislature of the fundamental, structural problems facing us is of paramount concern.

According to Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management (OPM), the state is almost $40 billion underfunded in the area of post-employment benefits due to state employees. Connecticut is among the worst offenders in the nation in this regard.

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s legislative leaders during last year’s protracted budget deliberations offered us ‘sound bite’ responses to questions about what direction the budget talks were taking. Here are two of my personal favorites, without attribution: ‘We don’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem…’ and ‘What do you want us to do, ground Life Star?’ If this is truly representative of our senior elected leaders’ views about the state’s financial situation, we are in for a prolonged fiscal crisis.

I submit that the CPA profession, with its financial acumen, has a responsibility to help the elected leaders of Connecticut make difficult, yet informed, decisions about how to really begin dealing with fiscal and demographic reality.

In this regard, the CSCPA has begun to participate in dialogue with Connecticut legislators on a non- partisan basis. On January 20, 2010, the society hosted a breakfast discussion in Groton which enabled CPAs and their clients to discuss fiscal concerns with a group of seven legislators. On March 19, 2010, over 50 Friday Focus attendees heard Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Tom Reynolds present “A Terrible Thing to Waste: Connecticut’s Budget Dilemma and the Opportunity to Reform.” A short survey of those attending the session produced the following:

  • A response rate of almost 60 percent.
  • Extremely high concern about Connecticut’s long term health (over 75 percent).
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents indicated that the CSCPA should take a larger role in discussing Connecticut’s financial future.
  • Almost 30 percent of the survey respondents expressed a willingness to personally participate in future society efforts directed at this issue.

We have spearheaded and supported financial literacy throughout Connecticut high schools for years. Now we are going to address a different and even more serious dearth of financial awareness: that of our elected leaders.

As Connecticut certified public accountants, there has never been a time to take our middle name more to heart.  As a profession, we have an obligation to the communities we serve…to serve in the public interest as best we know how.  To merely stand by and watch as our problem becomes the problem of our children, and our children’s children, would be to shirk that trust which the public has invested in us. 

I urge you to join me personally in this effort, for, as it has been posed, ‘If not us, who; if not now, when?’

Look for regular updates on these efforts on our website and in future issues of the Connecticut CPA.”

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  • Numbers are a language. CPAs can translate.

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