Herbst for treasurer, Jepsen for AG
Under the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Connecticut has taken some worthwhile steps toward addressing its grossly underfunded employee pension fund. Unlike his recent predecessors, Gov. Malloy has pushed the legislature to fully fund the state's pension-fund obligations, while concessions gained from state labor unions will cut long-term pension costs and demand greater worker investment.
Going forward, it will take persistence and more difficult fiscal sacrifices to continue closing the pension gap. With each budgetary shortfall will come the temptation to reduce or delay pension payments, a practice that got the state in the serious situation it faces.
Timothy Herbst, the Republican candidate for Treasurer, makes a good case that he will be a force to be reckoned with if Democrats, who will likely still control the House and Senate after the election, try to again shortchange the pensions.
"I will use the bully pulpit of the Office of the Treasurer … to urge the governor and the Assembly to stop kicking the can down the road and to inform and engage the public on a regular basis until this serious problem … is properly addressed," he told us.
Democrat Denise Nappier, who has held the Treasurer post for the last 16 years, has done a credible job of handling state investments, including $27 billion in state retirement assets. She is not to blame for the legislature's bad decisions. But the office could benefit from a fresh perspective, particularly someone willing to make life uncomfortable for the governor and legislature if they again begin playing games.
Mr. Herbst, the first selectman of Trumbull, is up to the challenge of serving as treasurer. He is dedicated to adding safeguards to assure state money is invested wisely and fairly. And he is right in seeking a more conservative approach when it comes to projecting returns on investment.
The Day endorses Timothy Herbst for treasurer.
Attorney General George Jepsen prefers doing his job out of the limelight, in stark contrast to his predecessor, Richard Blumenthal, now a U.S. senator. Mr. Blumenthal was always ready to appear before the news cameras to lambast businesses for one perceived injustice or another. While that approach burnished Mr. Blumenthal's reputation as a crusader, his methods in advocating for consumer protections needlessly made villains of some businesses, contributing to Connecticut's anti-business persona.
Since his election in 2010, Mr. Jepsen has closed hundreds of inactive investigations he inherited. Rather than immediately taking to a podium to lambast and litigate, the attorney general's office under Mr. Jepsen's direction seeks first to work with companies, persuading them to address and correct inappropriate actions.
However, the Democratic incumbent has taken action when appropriate. Mr. Jepsen played a lead role in multi-state litigation to address e-books price fixing, and in seeking to hold Standard & Poors responsible for alleged negligence when rating securities, causing public pension investment fund losses based on those ratings. He also played a key role in settling class-action lawsuits filed due to illegal foreclosure practices.
Facing criticism, including from this newspaper, for not more aggressively addressing the state's continued grants to Amistad America Inc. despite its obvious fiscal problems, Mr. Jepsen continued to work behind the scenes to secure a deal. In August he announced an agreement on the designation of a court-appointed receiver to take over the organization's operations and assets. A more public and vocal response to the problem may have boosted the attorney general's public persona, but not necessarily achieved a sound legal outcome.
Earlier this year Mr. Jepsen was named vice president of the National Association of Attorneys General, a prestigious appointment for a first-term AG. If he wins re-election, Mr. Jepsen stands to become the group's president in 2016. The organization plays a central role in organizing major legal actions taken collectively by the states.
In the election, Mr. Jepsen faces Republican Kie Westby and Green Party candidate Stephen E. Fournier. Neither man has made a credible case for replacing Mr. Jepsen.
The Day endorses George Jepsen for re-election as attorney general.
The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.
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Less extreme measures, which do not raise constitutional concerns or invite reciprocal roadblocks to be set up at other state borders, could accomplish the goal nearly as effectively.
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