by Charles A. Monagan
Jun 30, 2011
10:22 AM
On Connecticut

Crunch Time for the State Budget


Let's say that the Republican candidate for governor last fall, Tom Foley, had won the election and was now in charge in Hartford.

Let's say further that, as the new fiscal year was about to begin, he was proposing a package of budget cuts that included privatization initiatives, reduction in the size of state government, cuts to social-service agencies and reductions in state-employee benefits, such as sick days and longevity payments.

The Republicans in the House and Senate would be falling over themselves to get their pictures taken with him.

But instead, the governor who is proposing these things is Democrat Dannel Malloy. And instead of offering their support to him, or working to bring these long-wished-for initiatives to fruition, the Republicans are using words like "failure," "unconscionable" and "immoral" to describe Malloy's efforts.

This is a big part of what most sensible people hate about government these days - the rigid partisanship among elected officials and their more vocal supporters. They don't seem to realize that most of us, no matter how we voted last November, want Democrats and Republicans to work together to get our state of this fiscal mess in the best and fairest way possible. When they fold their arms and only say "no," they remind me of spoiled, sullen, not very bright children. (And just for the record, this is what the state-employee union members who loudly voted "no" on Malloy's recent budget offer, and are now stinking up Internet comment boards all across Connecticut, remind me of, too.)

I will have to do some research on this, but I'm guessing that virtually every great legislative achievement in Connecticut history has come as the result of a bipartisan effort. Indeed, that is what made them "great" - the reaching across lines, the earnest, sometimes fractious debate, the give and take, the sense of obligation on the part of lawmakers to reach compromise on behalf of their constituents.

Now we've reached another potentially "great" moment, a real turning point in the state's fiscal and governing history, and it's very possible the state legislature does not have the wherewithal, or the guts, to rise to it. I'm still hoping they will. They owe it to those of us out here who love Connecticut, who pay our taxes, and who want to feel it's being run by adults.

Crunch Time for the State Budget

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