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Somers' attacks on Malloy have been unfair and petty

The Nov. 26 guest commentary by Heather Somers ("Malloy lied to hide fiscal mismanagement") reveals a profound lack of understanding regarding the finances of the State of Connecticut. It also reflects a smallness of spirit at the core of the divisive partisanship that can prevent real progress in our state and country.

In her article, Somers - the candidate for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket defeated Nov. 4 - leveled the accusation that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and dozens of elected representatives had "deliberately and systematically lied" about the fiscal condition of the state in order to win an election. As proof of her slanderous charge, Somers cites a recently projected $99 million revenue shortfall.

The facts tell a different story. When Malloy took office four years ago, he inherited a $3.5 billion budget deficit. Connecticut had amassed $20 billion of unfunded pension liabilities and suffered through two decades of lack of job growth. Somers decries this state of affairs as the result of "one-party rule." She forgets - or does not know - that the rule of two successive Republican governors, Rowland and Rell, created the conditions Malloy inherited. Under these two Republican governors the state budget exploded, with annual budget increases of over 7 percent annually.

Malloy made tough decisions and balanced the budget, made payments toward pension obligations and cut the growth of state budgets to their lowest rate in decades, close to staying even with just the rate of inflation.

In Malloy's first term, the state workforce was reduced by some 5,000 positions from the day he took office.

As for the current situation, the revenue shortfall amounts to less than 1 percent of the state budget. (For the record, it bears noting that revenue is difficult to predict with certainty - and this is true for elected leaders from any party at any point in time.)

When the governor's staff developed an estimate of lower than expected revenues for the year, Malloy acted responsibly. The governor is taking executive action, including a hiring freeze, to keep the budget in balance and avert a possible year-end deficit.

We live in tough times. Our middle class is struggling to keep up, as our country grapples with the changes and demands of a competitive global economy. The communities and nations that make hard choices and unite to invest in education and infrastructure will win the future and secure a high quality of life for their people. Malloy has made those hard choices and has made important down payments toward a positive future for Connecticut.

Somers' guest commentary was a reflection of her recent campaign for office. She excels at name calling, but offers absolutely no positive alternative solutions to the difficult challenges we face.

Fortunately, voters know that hard times call for serious leadership. That's why just weeks ago the people of Connecticut - including the voters of Somers' town of Groton - voted to re-elect Malloy as governor.

In the days ahead, let's hope elected officials on both sides of the aisle can come together for the common good, and can focus on real policy issues rather than empty accusations and name calling.

Scott Bates lives in Stonington where he chairs the Democratic Town Committee. He represents the 18th state Senatorial District on the Democratic State Central Committee.


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