The Only Choice We Have Left

July 21, 2009

I just returned from California where our youngest son was married in a heartwarming and beautiful ceremony. I would have enjoyed spending more time with my husband and relatives, but legislative duties often have a way of interfering with family occasions, so I took a redeye back to Connecticut for Monday’s veto session at the State Capitol.

Fortunately, there was some compensation for the lack sleep. The good news for our district is positive legislative changes regarding the threat of building a “Super 7” highway. This is has been a long and hard fought battle that is finally over now that restrictions on this land have been lifted. We should now move forward with transportation priorities (like trains) that make sense!

I am also pleased that a portion of Route 33 through Wilton and Westport will be renamed “Fallen Heroes Highway” in honor of Nick Madaras and all other soldiers who lost their lives defending our country, along with our police officers and firefighters who lost their lives while saving others.

The rest of the veto session did not bring as much good news. While 13 of the Governor’s 20 vetoes were either upheld or not challenged – including the unworkable and expensive “pooling bill” to add more people to the state employee health insurance plan – the majority party used their numbers to enact several bills which we simply cannot afford, including the “SustiNet” universal health care proposal. This new law could cost Connecticut taxpayers as much as $1 billion!

When I privately asked a few of my colleagues where they intended to get the money as we are nearly $9 billion in the red, they replied that the economy will have recovered by the time the bill takes full effect in 2012. In my view this is unrealistic, downright dangerous, and in fact gambling with other people’s money.

While I was in California, that state’s budget crises finally reached the breaking point. With banks and vendors refusing to accept that state government’s IOU’s, the California legislature is finally moving to cutting its budget back to 2005 spending levels. When Governor Rell and we in Connecticut’s legislative minority proposed cutting back merely to 2007 levels, the majority refused.

During my west coast trip, I visited the Ronald Reagan Library where I was reminded that President Reagan inherited an economy in shambles. Mortgage rates had reached 18-20%, and we had an effective tax rate of nearly 70%. President Reagan used his leadership to reduce taxes by more than half and to jumpstart the economy.

It is past time for those in charge of Connecticut’s General Assembly to learn from both Ronald Reagan’s courageous leadership and the California legislature’s belated acknowledgment of the reality that they cannot continue to increase spending when they are out of money. Now, it is time for our legislature to join Connecticut’s families, seniors and businesses in making the tough choice to cut back. It is really the only choice left.

Senator Toni Boucher represents the 26th Senatorial District, which includes the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton. She can be reached at her legislative office in Hartford at 1-800-842-1421 or via e-mail to [email protected] Senator Boucher’s press contact in the Senate Republican Office is Catherine Sarault, who can be reached at 860-240-8818, or at [email protected]