Finding governor who leads by example
Seven years of one-party rule under the disastrous leadership of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and more than a decade of irresponsible stewardship of our state by Hartford insiders has brought Connecticut to ruin. Our state is facing another grave fiscal crisis our state leaders have made worse by pursuing a job-crushing, tax-hiking agenda that ignores the need for fundamental reform.
The feckless leadership shown by insiders in Hartford continues to threaten the stability of our state’s economy, drive away jobs and suppress wages. Rather than tackle the state’s growing unfunded budget liabilities, Malloy and his allies under the Gold Dome have repeatedly asked struggling Connecticut workers, families, retirees and businesses to sacrifice more.
As storm clouds turned into a present and perpetual fiscal crisis, many longtime legislators and well-connected special interests in Hartford fought repeatedly to protect their own interests and the status quo.
To be sure we have already begun to make some progress, electing a handful of tremendous Republican legislators in recent elections who have gone to Hartford to fight against business-as-usual. But there are still far too few of them to force the powerful, entrenched insiders at the top to act to fix our state’s problems.
The true insiders in Hartford continue to protect untenable perks for themselves, like using their mileage reimbursement to pad their pensions, while struggling Connecticut families are continually asked to sacrifice more.
I believe that only by changing the culture in Hartford can we implement the kind of fundamental change our state so desperately needs. That is why when I announced my candidacy for governor I committed to lead by example as a candidate and if elected by pledging to:
- Refuse a state pension as governor.
- Move all state agency heads, political appointees and their staff to a defined contribution plan and off the state pension system.
- Demand an end to state pensions for Connecticut’s part-time, citizen legislature.
- Refuse all campaign contributions from Hartford lobbyists.
Recently I sent a letter to 15 candidates and potential candidates for governor, in both parties, calling on them to agree to the same pledge to lead-by example. I will continue to ask anyone who enters the contest for this office the same.
In what promises to be a congested race this pledge will give voters a clear choice between the candidates truly committed to them and reform and those that are out to advance their own interests and preserve the status quo in Hartford.
I know by experience setting the tone through leading by example works because I did it in Trumbull.
When I took office our town was in need of real reform and new, outsider leadership. I set an example and refused a town pension. I reduced the number of political appointees who were pension eligible and made all new hires enter a defined contribution plan.
We increased health care contributions for appointees across the board, including for the first selectman, saving more than $700,000. During my first 100 days in office, we identified $1 million in operational savings in the town budget. We took difficult, bold steps, working with our labor leaders, to reform our pension system.
The swift action we took in Trumbull has paid huge dividends. Our pension system is now fully funded on an annual basis. There are less town employees than when I took office eight years ago. Our town government runs more efficiently with a stable tax rate, delivering better services than ever before. We were able to deliver two tax cuts. Our credit rating has been upgraded as a result of the reforms we have pursued and we have become a regional destination for business and families.
I came into office as an outsider, committed to reform and it worked.
Now Connecticut stands at a fundamental crossroads between continuing down the path of failed leadership or sending a new generation of leaders to shake things up in Hartford.
In order to tackle our state’s serious challenges, we need to elect proven reformers and Hartford outsiders across state government. From governor to state representative, I believe Connecticut voters should look to outsiders in 2018, not to retread candidates or insiders who have been a long-term part of the problem.
Tim Herbst is the first selectman of the Town of Trumbull and a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor.