A time to rally, not to deepen party di­vi­sions

For the sake of clar­ity for Con­necti­cut’s cities and towns; for the sake of our chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion; for the health and com­fort of vet­er­ans, se­niors, the dis­abled and the im­pov­er­ished; for sta­bil­ity in busi­ness and in­dus­try; for the sol­vency of tax­pay­ers

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - FRONT PAGE -

Look­ing back at who is to blame is point­less; our elected lead­ers need to look for­ward and act with alacrity.

Democrats and Repub­li­cans alike have had plenty of time to strut the stage in front of their in­di­vid­ual and com­mon con­stituen­cies since Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy pre­sented his take-your-medicine bud­get last Fe­bru­ary. The dither­ing at the Capi­tol in the months since then has been truly dispir­it­ing.

With Democrats hold­ing a scant 79-72 mar­gin in the House, and an 18-18 tie in the Se­nate, reach­ing a palat­able agree­ment on a two-year, nearly $40 bil­lion bud­get is dif­fi­cult. But it should not be im­pos­si­ble.

Con­necti­cut started its fis­cal year July 1 with­out a bud­get — the Gen­eral Assem­bly, which should have ended its work on June 5 — did not even bring one to a vote. So the gover­nor was left to keep gov­ern­ment op­er­at­ing through dra­co­nian mea­sures liked by no one. Each day with­out a bud­get costs the state $1 mil­lion, and to­day is now day 76. Can you hear the sound of money go­ing down the drain?

Look­ing back at who is to blame is lam­en­ta­ble — and point­less; our elected lead­ers need to look for­ward and act with alacrity. The next cliff is Oct. 1, the start of the fed­eral bud­get, af­ter which the state loses wig­gle room on the ben­e­fits of par­tic­u­lar cuts.

Enough. Some­body has to be the states­man and show that com­pro­mise is not weak­ness. Com­pro­mise is putting the good of all of us — of the state of Con­necti­cut — ahead of in­di­vid­ual agen­das.

Surely com­mon ground can be found. For starters, en­act­ing a Con­sti­tu­tional spend­ing cap (pro­posed with the start of the state in­come tax in 1991) is over­due. This is the sort of get-your-house-in-or­der mea­sure that can re­as­sure busi­nesses Con­necti­cut is se­ri­ous about con­trol­ling its spend­ing. Repub­li­cans pro­posed this, but no sin­gle party has a lock on good ideas. Manda­tory votes on union con­tracts, which we have sup­ported, also make sense.

Both par­ties have their ver­sions of re­do­ing the Ed­u­ca­tional Cost Shar­ing for­mula to ac­count for fac­tors such as en­roll­ment. With the state un­der a Su­pe­rior Court or­der to fix the un­fair for­mula and pro­vide an equal ed­u­ca­tion for all stu­dents, surely the par­ties can find agree­ment, even though the court de­ci­sion is un­der ap­peal, and show progress.

In all the bud­get pro­pos­als there are ar­eas to dis­like — some a lot — and ar­eas to en­dorse. But with the pas­sage of each day, and the drain­ing away of mil­lions, Leg­is­la­tors have to look at the big­ger picture. Make struc­tural changes; res­cue Con­necti­cut’s rep­u­ta­tion.

The gover­nor has com­pro­mised, sev­eral times, on his first bud­get pro­posal. Now Democrats and Repub­li­cans must do the same — and rep­re­sent all the peo­ple.

With Democrats hold­ing a scant 79-72 mar­gin in the House, and an 18-18 tie in the Se­nate, reach­ing a palat­able agree­ment on a two-year, nearly $40 bil­lion bud­get is dif­fi­cult. But it should not be im­pos­si­ble.

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