To the next Gen­eral As­sem­bly mem­bers — Be it re­solved

The News-Times (Sunday) - - Opinion - By state Sen. Michael McLach­lan State Sen. Michael McLach­lan rep­re­sents the 24th State Sen­a­to­rial Dis­trict, which is com­prised of Bethel, Dan­bury, New Fair­field, and Sherman.

As 2019 beck­ons, it’s New Year’s res­o­lu­tion sea­son.

I’ve com­piled a list of res­o­lu­tions for our new Demo­crat gover­nor and Democrat­con­trolled Con­necti­cut Gen­eral As­sem­bly to con­sider.

1. Re­solve to be fis­cally re­spon­si­ble. Ear­lier this year, I was proud to vote for state bud­get ad­just­ments that re­solved the fis­cal year 2019 deficit, fully fi­nanced the Spe­cial Trans­porta­tion Fund, and pro­vided funds to fully staff the Con­necti­cut state veter­ans hos­pi­tal. The bud­get was and is the prod­uct of bi­par­ti­san ne­go­ti­a­tions. A true and fair com­pro­mise, it pro­vided fund­ing for crit­i­cal ser­vices without tax in­creases or en­act­ing tolls. That bears re­peat­ing: no tax hikes and no tolls.

2. Re­mem­ber that the state is broke. Propos­ing new ini­tia­tives and pro­grams al­ways sounds nice. Prob­lem is, there is no money for well-in­ten­tioned new pro­grams. That may sound sad and bleak, but it’s our re­al­ity. Fo­cus on the red ink.

3. Work with and lis­ten to the bi­par­ti­san State Au­di­tors. Time and again, our state au­di­tors and their able team of bud­get watch­dogs un­cover waste, fraud and abuse in Con­necti­cut gov­ern­ment. I’m talk­ing about shake-your-head-in-dis­be­lief types of waste, fraud and abuse. Mil­lions of mil­lions of tax­payer dol­lars can be pro­tected now and in the fu­ture sim­ply by scour­ing the au­di­tors’ rec­om­men­da­tions and fol­low­ing through on them.

4. Quit max­ing out the state tax­pay­ers’ credit card al­ready! This year, the gover­nor bor­rowed $10 mil­lion to study, yes, study, tolls. He was du­ti­fully sup­ported in this ef­fort by Democrats on the State Bond Com­mis­sion. This was just one ex­am­ple of un­nec­es­sary spend­ing and bor­row­ing. Needs should be funded, not wants.

5. Pro­mote busi­ness growth and jobs in Con­necti­cut — by lis­ten­ing to busi­ness own­ers and job cre­ators. Pass­ing a bal­anced, no-tax-in­crease bud­get this past year sent a mes­sage that Democrats and Repub­li­cans can do the hard work of putting the state’s fis­cal house in or­der. It also showed that we can con­trol spend­ing while still pro­vid­ing cru­cial ser­vices. Busi­nesses are watch­ing law­mak­ers even more closely now for anti­growth pro­pos­als. Give them the con­fi­dence they need. Don’t spook them.

6. Lis­ten to the mi­nor­ity party. The Dan­bury News-Times once opined that “ef­fec­tive gov­ern­ment needs a mul­ti­tude of voices, not one-party con­trol.” Well said. As of Jan. 9, it will be oneparty con­trol at our State Capi­tol. Here’s hop­ing ma­jor­ity Democrats and the gover­nor will use their power pru­dently and in­clude Repub­li­can voices and ideas in pol­icy-mak­ing. Those Repub­li­can voices helped de­liver a spend­ing cap, a bond­ing cap, and a toll-free, tax-hike free bud­get in 2018. Not too shabby.

The new class of law­mak­ers and the gover­nor should feel free to post these res­o­lu­tions on their of­fice bul­letin boards. Re­view them pe­ri­od­i­cally, then re-read them in De­cem­ber 2019 to see which of them were bro­ken.

On a per­sonal note, I thank the tax­pay­ers of the 24th State Se­nate Dis­trict for giv­ing me the won­der­ful honor of serv­ing you for the past decade. Many last­ing friend­ships were made, and I took great joy when my hard­work­ing se­nate staff was able to help con­stituents solve a wide va­ri­ety of prob­lems big and small. I wish my suc­ces­sor the very best, and I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year.

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