A “Moment of Truth”

October 8, 2015

(Please read today’s Waterbury Republican-American Editorial attached below and contact your legislators today – thank you!)

Call lawmakers to Hartford

Waterbury Republican American Editorial

Oct. 8, 2015

Despite the present trouble, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo are optimistic about the future of Connecticut’s fiscal year 2015-16 budget.

According to the governor’s Office of Policy and Management, when the recent round of emergency spending cuts — worth nearly $103 million — are factored in, the state will end the fiscal year with a $600,000 surplus, according to an Oct. 2 Republican-American report. Mr. Lembo said that depending on the timing of the cuts, Connecticut could have a surplus.

Barring a dramatic revision to this inherently flawed budget, any surplus that emerges will have an asterisk.

The budget package Gov. Malloy and the Democratic legislative majorities approved in late June covers FYs 2015-16 and 2016-17. It is notably spend-heavy, with spending increasing by 3.9 percent in FY 2015-16 and by 3 percent the following year. To get around Connecticut’s 23-year-old constitutional spending cap, the governor and his supporters employed gimmickry. Most infamously, they moved all spending on pensions and health care for retired teachers and state employees out from under the cap. This is reminiscent of the 2013 stunt that saw them remove $6 billion in Medicaid reimbursements from the cap calculation.

A budget that relies on such maneuvering will never legitimately be in the black.

The dishonesty will not sit well with credit-rating agencies and business people, further endangering Connecticut’s fragile prospects.

The state only will be able to boast of an honest surplus if dramatic changes are made. Fixes should come as soon as possible, but Gov. Malloy doesn’t have the authority to make them unilaterally. A special legislative session is the best way to bring revisions to fruition. Indeed, the stars may be aligning for lawmakers to return to the Capitol.

Citing concerns about the budget’s impact on Connecticut’s business climate, legislative Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Leonard A. Fasano of North Haven, have been calling for a special session since August.

With the reality of Gov. Malloy’s cuts hitting home, some Democratic lawmakers now seem open to a special session.

Several newspaper editorial boards also have come out in favor of one.

With any luck, the legislators and newspapers will be able to prompt changes of heart by Gov. Malloy and House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, who have steadfastly resisted the notion of a special session.

Gov. Malloy and Speaker Sharkey now face a moment of truth.

Hopefully, they will do the right thing.