An Optimistic Start on Opening Day: Hope for a Change in Direction May be on the Horizon

February 3, 2016

By Sen. Toni Boucher

Do my ears deceive me? Did I hear that the Governor may be moving closer to the other side of the aisle? There are hopeful signs that a change in direction may be on the horizon.

Today in the State of the State Address, the Governor seem to be speaking from the Republican playbook and using many of its proposals to fix Connecticut. That is good news, and an optimistic start to the 2016 legislative session.

It does make one wonder, where was the administration five years ago? They must now recognize it is time to get real. The financial survival and sustainability of the state of Connecticut, its businesses, and its people are in jeopardy.

For many years, the Republicans had provided the administration with the vast majority of the proposals that the governor issued today. It is finally sinking in that after the state is facing a financial disaster, and that there is no other choice than to face the reality of the dire situation the majority party created.

After making the point that we are living in changing times, that wages and home values are not increasing, and that business are hurting, the Governor has come to terms with the state’s new economic reality.

  • In his speech the Governor offered these reforms:
  • The state must limit spending to the revenues available.
  • Cuts in spending must be made when they do not match incoming revenues.
  • The government should be living within their means.
  • Attrition in the public sector must happen to decrease spending.
  • The spending cap must be enacted, 25 years after it was passed by the citizens of Connecticut.
  • Public sector pension and post-employment costs must be reined in.
  • Collective bargaining contracts should reflect what Connecticut can afford, and not be based on past practice.
  • Pension changes are being sought that would convert defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans.
  • Prioritizing funding for core services.
  • Departments should provide information on how it spends its funds online for total transparency.
  • A Constitutional Lockbox of transportation funds.
  • No items should be added to the budget without a public hearing as has been common practice in the past.
  • There should be compromise and all ideas are welcome.

Sound familiar? Republicans have been offering these policies to the other side for years and even as early as this week!

It is unfortunate that these proposals were not on the agenda five years ago, when they may have put Connecticut on a sustainable path, and we would not be facing today’s dire financial circumstances.

All in all, however, the Governor’s address is good news. It is time to get serious, bring all parties to the table and turn these necessary proposals into action! Connecticut is a state we all love, and with so much at stake, it is essential that we come together to effect the changes required to move it in the right direction.