Time To “Lead, Follow, Or Get Out Of The Way” (Thomas Paine)

December 30, 2009

As 2010 approaches, we are all looking ahead to better times for our families, our businesses and our state. However, much lies between us and prosperity due to the lack of leadership shown by our General Assembly as Connecticut’s citizens continue to struggle to overcome the damage caused by the national recession and irresponsible government spending and fiscal polices. Too many elected officials have forgotten that government’s purpose is to serve its people, not the other way around.

Just before the holidays, the General Assembly met yet again in special session to address the state’s persistent budget deficit, now projected at between $300 and $600 million. The result was what some characterized as being similar to the plot of the film Groundhog Day during which the leading character is doomed to repeat a single day until he gets it right. We continue to spend more than we can afford by cutting a mere $12.4 million and postponing a promised, necessary, change to the state’s punitive estate tax. No lessons have been learned to date, thus assuring that the state budget will be in deficit in the billions for fiscal years 2012, 2013 and 2014. It is no wonder recent national surveys and almost every newspaper in Connecticut states that the General Assembly has turned a cold shoulder toward the state’s jobs-producing business community and generated hostility in the general population.

All of us should, therefore, be heartened by Governor M. Jodi Rell’s common sense veto of this grossly inadequate deficit mitigation plan and strong stand against the legislature’s continued lack of leadership. In a move that I support, Governor Rell is seeking a change in state law to expand her ability to cut spending during a serious state budget deficit as the legislature has proven that it cannot, or will not.

Thomas Paine once said to “Lead, follow or get out of the way”. Today, Governor Rell is telling the legislature’s majority leadership to get out her way as they have clearly demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to lead Connecticut back to prosperity. Connecticut is drowning in a sea of red ink and it is time for the General Assembly to follow Governor Rell as she leads our state back to shore. I look forward to working with her, and with a more realistic, forward looking General Assembly, to put our state’s finances back on solid ground.