Malloy took the hit, so stop your complaining

State legislative leaders were moaning and groaning Friday about the tough choices made by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy because of the budget they handed him two weeks ago.

Malloy chose to hold back significant funding to many municipalities, with the average cut to municipal grants 2.5 percent. Human services program grants were reduced on average by 2 percent.

In approving the $41.3 billion two-year budget four months into the current fiscal year, lawmakers provided target savings but left the details to the governor.

They expressed shock — shock! — over his choices.

“Governor Malloy is completely ignoring the legislative intent of the state budget lawmakers passed last month,” sniffed Senate Republican leader Len Fasano of North Haven. They wanted overtime cut and administrative functions consolidated, he said. Except that Malloy’s administration looked at the numbers and knew that would not get the state there.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, predicted “strong pushback from all corners of the state.”

Be thankful Malloy will be getting the pushback, Joe.

The hyperbole award, however, goes to House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby.

“The governor’s brazen decision to ignore the intent of the compromise budget is bare sabotage,” said Klarides. She cited it as evidence that Malloy “will spend his remaining time in office working to punish anyone who has opposed his failed policies.”

Bare sabotage is apparently far worse than clothed sabotage.

But here’s the thing, as noted by the Connecticut Mirror in its reporting: “Contractual obligations and other factors actually left (Malloy) little flexibility to do anything else and still meet the legislature’s directive.”

Malloy seemed to target communities with healthy fund balances and the ability to meet the “holdbacks” without too much pain. Locally, East Lyme saw a $673,452 holdback, an 8.1 percent reduction; Stonington $188,066, or 8.5 percent; Waterford $89,540, 8 percent; Ledyard $1.2 million, 7.3 percent; and Montville, $1 million, 6.4 percent.

Both New London and Norwich saw their expected aid cut 0.6 percent.

It could have been worse. Malloy expects to get the bulk of the savings he had to find — $700 million out of the $880 million in the first year, $868 million out of the $1.1 billion in the second — from the labor concessions he negotiated.

Legislative leaders should have saved the drama and provided a simple, joint statement: “Don’t blame us, blame him.”

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.

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