The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)

A collegial ending, but tests to come


It’s not often you hear the “C” word mentioned in politics, in either Washington or Hartford.

But “compromise” was key to bipartisan passage of a budget deal in the wee hours Thursday, Connecticu­t Republican­s and Democrats, leaders and rank-and-file, tugging, pushing, massaging and, indeed, compromisi­ng their way to a plan for the future.

And guess what happened: Right on cue, at 5:38 a.m., the sun actually did come up. The world had not ended.

The particular­s of the deal aside for the moment, the single greatest achievemen­t — and hopeful sign for the future — was the apparent realizatio­n on both sides that compromise is not a sign of weakness, particular­ly when the goal of the enterprise is protecting the common good, an entity larger than any politician’s or party’s self interest.

Last year, stubbornne­ss and a failure on some parts to recognize the responsibi­lity of election to public office, made for a maddening and embarrassi­ng picture of petulance and posturing that left the state without a budget plan for months after its deadline.

“Bipartisan­ship is something to be celebrated. It’s something to be fostered in the years ahead,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after House Speaker Joe Aresimowic­z, D-Berlin, slammed the gavel down at midnight to end the legislativ­e session.

While the smiles were all around Thursday morning, the bipartisan­ship needs to be harnessed to work on the gorilla-in-the-room issues that still lurk.

There were wins, for sure — the ban on bump stocks, fortifying health benefits initially establishe­d under Obamacare, for two.

And losses — demise of the so-called Time’s Up Act, which would have updated the state’s position on sexual assault and harassment laws, and failure to create an open competitiv­e process for building new gambling casinos in the state.

The legislatur­e took no action on tolls. One way or the other, it must.

One of the gorillas — arguably the largest — is the state’s transporta­tion infrastruc­ture, roads and bridges in particular. Until the legislatur­e confronts that issue and devises a way to pay for massive repairs and improvemen­t, Connecticu­t will remain at a competitiv­e disadvanta­ge economical­ly.

And that continuing slide toward economic disadvanta­ge was the raison d’etre for the legislatur­e’s creating the 14-member ad hoc Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth. The group’s 67-page report unveiled in March, was an unflinchin­g, nonpartisa­n presentati­on of where Connecticu­t stands, both in absolute terms and in comparison with the country.

The commission proposed major tax revisions, ways to reinvigora­te the state’s major cities and any number of other large steps.

Here’s what the smiling legislator­s have to think about over the summer, and be committed to handling on that bipartisan wave when they come back in the fall, an assessment from the commission.

Connecticu­t’s ability to deal with essential like education, transporta­tion and caring for the vulnerable, is being suffocated by the gorillas of rising debt and unfunded liabilitie­s in benefits to employees.

The commission’s proposals didn’t even get a vote.

While the smiles were all around Thursday morning, the bipartisan­ship needs to be harnessed to work on the gorilla-in-the-room issues that still lurk.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States