Bipartisan Cooperation Is The Key To A Successful 2010 Legislative Session

February 9, 2010

Opening day of the 2010 Legislative Session was just as busy and ceremonious as expected. Both legislators and staff dressed in their Sunday best. Spouses, family members and friends of lawmakers, along with local elected officials and other dignitaries, visited the State Capitol to join in the excitement.

But behind all the ceremony was the understanding that to make this three month legislative session a success will mean many long days of hard work. Connecticut is in the midst of a huge fiscal crisis, and the people who sent us to Hartford expect, and deserve, to know that their elected representatives are determined to make the 2010 session better and more productive than 2009.

That cannot happen unless we legislators follow Governor M. Jodi Rell’s advice to embrace civility. As she rightly said during her opening day address to the General Assembly, we may not always agree with each other, but we do have to respect each other. This year, we legislators absolutely have to find a way to work together; otherwise we will have a repeat of last year’s failure to resolve our serious fiscal problems. That is an outcome we simply cannot afford.

The national recession has cost Connecticut 94,000 jobs. Individuals, families, businesses, municipal governments and everyone else who has a stake in the economic health of our state continue to suffer. Whatever the General Assembly does this year has to be done with the goal of restoring prosperity to our state, including putting people back to work and convincing businesses to invest and grow in Connecticut. We can do that, in part, by cutting government spending and controlling taxes. Our first order of business must be to abolish the state’s $500-million budget deficit for this fiscal year, and pass a new budget that takes into account falling tax revenues.

You may recall that the General Assembly did not finish its work on time last year. We did not pass a state budget until after the start of the fiscal year. It was not a good budget, and the General Assembly has tried, and failed, since then to fix it by passing a series of deficit mitigation plans. The entire process was marred by political bickering and, some would say, produced little of lasting worth. Not surprisingly, the events of this past year left many Connecticut citizens less than impressed with the ability of their elected state officials to put aside their political differences in order to work together for the good of the state.

As Governor Rell stressed on opening day of the 2010 Legislative Session, we have to do better this year. This year, I will continue to serve as a member of the Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for overseeing development of the spending side of the state budget. Governor Rell has already outlined her budget proposals. Now, it is up to the General Assembly to respond to her recommendations, and develop its own proposals. There will be a great many differences of opinion among legislators and between the General Assembly and Governor Rell. That is to be expected; debate is a necessary part of the process. However, by the time this legislative session ends on May 5th, 2010, that debate, conducted in a respectful and civil fashion, has to have produced a balanced, responsible state budget that meets our needs and begins the process of revitalizing our economy. The partisan bickering of last year cannot be repeated this year.

During my time in the Senate, my constituents have been generous with their advice about the best way to deal with the many important issues facing us. I hope they continue to communicate with me in the weeks ahead. I can be reached at my legislative office at 1-800-842-1421, or by e-mailing me at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.

Senator Rob Kane represents the 32nd Senatorial District, which includes the communities of Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Middlebury, Oxford, Seymour, Southbury, Thomaston, Roxbury, Watertown and Woodbury