Barnes is the right choice

Hartford Courant - - Opinion -

It is dif­fi­cult to con­ceive of Hart­ford Courant pub­lish­ing a more un­fair and mis­lead­ing col­umn than Kevin Ren­nie’s crit­i­ciz­ing Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy’s bud­get direc­tor Ben Barnes [Nov. 28, courant.com, “Kevin Ren­nie: Ned La­mont faces cleanup as Mal­loy team ex­its”].

Claim­ing that Barnes’ ap­point­ment as CFO of the Con­necti­cut State Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties sys­tem smacks of “crony­ism,” Ren­nie ac­cuses Barnes of fail­ing to “pre­pare a bal­anced bud­get that does not chase more peo­ple out of Con­necti­cut these eight un­happy years.”

In fact, Barnes’ per­for­mance in of­fice these past eight years has been noth­ing short of bril­liant. He ar­rived af­ter Repub­li­can Gov. M. Jodi Rell cleaned out the rainy day fund’s $1.4 bil­lion and left her suc­ces­sor a $3.6 bil­lion deficit, among other fi­nan­cial dis­as­ters.

Yet Barnes and Gov. Mal­loy cre­ated bal­anced bud­gets and rainy day fund sur­pluses each year, re­struc­tured state gov­ern­ment, re­duced the state work­force nearly 14 per­cent, cre­ated two new pen­sion tiers for state employees, even­tu­ally sav­ing the state $45 bil­lion, and re­struc­tured the state pen­sion fund so that within three years re­quired con­tri­bu­tions will be­gin to de­cline and con­tinue to drop for years to come.

With Barnes’ guid­ance, Con­necti­cut kept an­nual spend­ing to 2 per­cent, the low­est in­crease in decades.

In short, Barnes helped right the state’s fiscal ship that he found in near col­lapse af­ter 16 years of Repub­li­can gov­er­nors. The Con­necti­cut State Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties sys­tem is for­tu­nate that Ben Barnes will be its CFO.

Sean Goldrick, Green­wich

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