To new state lead­ers: Wear power re­spon­si­bly

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Opinion -

New lead­er­ship will take over the helm of the state of Connecticut on Wed­nes­day. They face the sober task of steer­ing the ship clear from the shoals of eco­nomic ruin and chart­ing a re­al­is­tic path to pros­per­ity not for the few, but for the many who chose to live here.

For the first time in eight years, a new gov­er­nor will be in con­trol. Many new com­mis­sion­ers to lead the state’s top agen­cies will bring fresh per­spec­tives. Gov.- elect Ned La­mont demon­strated an open­ness to gather ideas from a broad rep­re­sen­ta­tion of con­stituents as he pre­pared for the tran­si­tion and we hope his will­ing­ness to lis­ten con­tin­ues.

Fresh be­gin­nings call for look­ing for­ward. But first, a re­minder to build on the best of the past. Out­go­ing Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy is leav­ing the state on firmer foot­ing than when he took of­fice in 2011. He un­der­stood that un­der­funded pen­sion li­a­bil­i­ties were go­ing to push the state over the fis­cal cliff — and he be­gan the hard and mostly thank­less work of turn­ing it around. Fu­ture gov­er­nors must con­tinue the com­mit­ment to re­spon­si­bly fund­ing the pen­sions for state em­ploy­ees and teach­ers, while the Connecticut Pen- sion Sta­bil­ity Com­mis­sion pre­pares a fi­nal re­port on whether to trans­fer state real es­tate, or other as­sets, to the pen­sions.

While the elec­tion cam­paigns were about taxes, debt and at­tract­ing busi­ness, Mal­loy’s legacy may ul­ti­mately be about em­pa­thy. He showed true lead­er­ship on so­cial is­sues, such as gen­der equal­ity, health care, pri­son re­form, fair­ness for Dream­ers, and refugee set­tle­ment. Money is ephemeral, but these are the things that de­fine our hu­man­ity.

On Wed­nes­day a new Gen­eral Assem­bly — 151 rep­re­sen­ta­tives and 36 sen­a­tors — also will take of­fice with a record 41 fresh­men. Though now Connecticut will have a tri­fecta of Demo­cratic lead­er­ship, the party in power must make ev­ery ef­fort to work on so­lu­tions in a bi­par­ti­san fash­ion. As we have said many times, no one party or group has a lock on good ideas.

The pri­mary job of leg­is­la­tors un­til the ses­sion ends on June 5 will be craft­ing a bi­en­nial state bud- get. This will be no easy task given that the deficit is pro­jected for at least $ 1.5 bil­lion. Please prom­ise no gim­micks, nor “easy” reme­dies such as higher taxes. We en­cour­age the state’s lead­ers to re­visit rec­om­men­da­tions in the Com­mis­sion on Fis­cal Sta­bil­ity and Eco­nomic Growth re­port from March and its fall up­date.

Other than the all- im­por­tant bud­get, the top three crit­i­cal is­sues fac­ing the new gov­er­nor and Gen­eral Assem­bly are trans­porta­tion ( how to re­lieve high­way con­ges­tion, par­tic­u­larly along In­ter­state 95, In­ter­state 84 and the Mer­ritt and Wil­bur Cross park­ways, re­pair crum­bling bridges and im­prove com­muter rail ser­vice); ed­u­ca­tion ( how to en­sure ur­ban and sub­ur­ban chil­dren have equal ac­cess and the for­mula for state aid to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties is fair); and eco­nomic growth ( help in­dus­tries grow and add em­ploy­ees while at­tract­ing new busi­nesses).

Most of all, don’t for­get you rep­re­sent all of the res­i­dents of Connecticut.

Though now Connecticut will have a tri­fecta of Demo­cratic lead­er­ship, the party in power must make ev­ery ef­fort to work on so­lu­tions in a bi­par­ti­san fash­ion.

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