Include Republicans in state budget talks
In failing to include Republican lawmakers in state budget negotiations, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is effectively disenfranchising thousands of citizens in southeastern Connecticut who sent a message about the need for fiscal prudency with the choices they made last November.
Republican state Reps. John F. Scott, 40th District; Aundre Bumgardner, 41st District; Mike France, 42nd District; and Doug Dubisky, 47th District, all ousted incumbent Democrats. In the 38th District, Republican state Rep. Kathleen M. McCarty was elected to fill a vacant seat long held by the Democrats.
On the Senate side, state Sen. Paul Formica of the 20th also captured a vacant seat that had been in the Democratic column for years, while in the 33rd District, Sen. Art Linares, a Republican, won re-election.
There was no similar shift of power anywhere else in the state. The change imposed by southeastern Connecticut voters stripped the Democrats of the super majority necessary to maneuver around the constitutionally mandated spending cap. Collectively, these Republicans represent in our region the towns of Groton, New London, Ledyard, Preston, Montville, Waterford, Norwich, East Lyme, Old Lyme, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, Chester, Deep River, East Haddam and Haddam.
However, when they helped form an alternative Republican spending plan, one not dependent on widespread tax increases but that instead demands reductions in state labor costs — including finding the $253 million in labor savings promised but never delivered in the 2011 budget deal — Gov. Malloy dismissed it.
“I think they put out an unbelievably bogus budget, unbelievably bogus,” Gov. Malloy said in excluding Republicans from negotiations, choosing to deal with his fellow Democrats, who want to increase the income tax on the wealthy and dramatically broaden the reach of the sales tax to balance the budget.
While there is a bit of bogus in all three budget proposals — from the governor and Republican and Democratic lawmakers — our take is the Republican “Blueprint for Prosperity” is the best approach to a fiscal solution that does not damage the economy or overburden social services with cuts. However, its call for labor concession takes the governor where he does not want to go.
Republican legislators and their ideas may yet be needed to break a budget impasse, but we urge the governor not to wait until such a situation and include Republican leaders at the budget negotiation table now.