The “New Economic Reality” is a Poor Excuse for Failure

August 1, 2016

Connecticut families are struggling. Property taxes are high, health care is expensive, and jobs are scarce. Disappointingly, the new state budget, passed by majority Democrats and the governor, will only worsen these facts.

The budget slashes education funding and pushes more burdens onto our towns and cities, which will result in property tax hikes. It cuts deeply from hospitals and Medicaid, meaning that everyone’s health care will become harder to access and more expensive. It does not implement the long-term structural changes our state needs to attract new jobs. It also has disturbing unintended consequences that will deny thousands of low income children access to day care which their parents rely upon to go to work.

But some individuals have justified passing a budget that cuts from the most vulnerable and fails to spark economic growth by saying they are simply reacting to the “new economic reality.”

That justification is nothing more than an excuse. It’s an argument that accepts failure, accepts the status quo, and does nothing to actually identify or correct why our economy is such a mess. It asks Connecticut’s families to accept a second-rate government and lower paying jobs.

The reality is that we face challenges today because of years of failed fiscal policies. This is not a new unexplained phenomenon. Calling it a ‘new reality’ ignores the truth and the many years of bad decisions. Bad policy is what drove our state to where it is today and put our families in jeopardy.

Accepting failure must not be the new norm.

I know there is hope for our state if we pursue a new path with long-term structural changes and smarter budgeting. But people have to drop the excuses and admit to the problem before we can fix it.

Some have blamed a downturn in the financial services industry and an elimination of many high paying financial jobs as justification for the “new reality.” But while it’s true that multiple states have seen a downturn following the recession, Connecticut’s recovery has been much slower than our neighboring states. While Connecticut continues to lose financial services jobs, Rhode Island is growing these jobs.

Why can’t we have a “new economic reality” like Massachusetts is enjoying or even Rhode Island? Their realities include new GE jobs and economic growth. But the reason a place like Boston has a different reality is because it has what we don’t: stable finances and bipartisan cooperation between the city and governor.

Connecticut cannot get by using the excuse that a “new economic reality” is the only reality and accepting lower paying jobs and failure is the only option.

Given the right tools, Connecticut can grow good-paying jobs, strengthen education and healthcare, boost our economy and create a prosperous and reliable state. But hiding behind the excuse that failure is simply the new norm is completely unacceptable.