In 2018, demand specifics from the candidates for governor

Get ready for the 2018 gubernatorial election, which is going to be thrust upon the people of Connecticut before they get all the decorations put away. In fact, multiple candidates are already busy organizing and a couple of candidate forums have taken place.

Such is the nature of elections in the 21st century.

With all that time, the press and the public should expect some specifics from the men and women who want to be Connecticut’s governor.

What, for example, are their ideas for addressing the problem of an underfunded pension plan and heavy debt service load? The growth of money that must be devoted to these accounts has crowded out spending for programs and contributed to the persistent budgetary shortfalls and need for tax hikes.

Incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy convinced the legislature to refinance pension payments, lowering the investment the state must make annually into the pension fund for retired state workers, but extending the fund investments and so the cost. He also obtained labor concessions.

Is that enough, or do the candidates have additional ideas for managing the pension obligations? Voters deserve to know.

How would the candidates propose funding the state’s many transportation needs? And what would be their priorities — investing in improving the traditional highway system or more aggressively promoting mass transit?

Should the legislature raise the gas tax to pay for it? Or is the better option reintroducing tolls to Connecticut’s highways, utilizing modern technology that eliminates the need for toll booths?

The money has to come from somewhere. Beware the candidate who suggests it doesn’t.

If a candidate promises to shrink the size of government to balance spending without tax increases, make sure to find out how. What programs can the state do without and who consequently suffers? Which services are expendable or can be moved to the private sector? Check the math.

How do the candidates see the state labor unions? They are an easy target, certainly. But how about some substance? The contract providing health and pension benefits is locked in through 2027. Republicans in the legislature have said it should be the last such contract, that the state should set these benefits by law, as many states do, not by negotiated contract.

While the contract runs through the next two gubernatorial terms, policies adopted in the next few years could set the stage for what happens come 2027. Conversely, a governor could use a promise to protect the negotiated contracts to extract additional concessions from labor. What say you, candidates?

Will the voters hear some big ideas?

Connecticut has taken a toe-in-the-water approach to trying to initiate regional approaches to providing government services. Are any of the candidates, if elected governor, prepared to propose bolder steps to consolidate government and educational services and modify a system that provides redundant administrative functions in each of Connecticut’s towns and cities?

Is there a better alternative to the patchwork of property, sales, income, sin and various other taxes that now fund Connecticut’s multi-layered governance?

Do you want to be governor? Do you have some ideas? If so, let’s hear them. If not, don't waste our time.

 

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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