Len Fasano op-ed: Stop revising history

March 7, 2017

By state Sen. Len Fasano
Op-ed as it appeared in Connecticut’s Hearst Media Publications

Connecticut is a great state, but our budget is in serious trouble. We can right this ship, but to do so there must be a collaborative effort to change course, boost our economy and pass a budget that restores people’s confidence in our state.

Unfortunately, Democrats would rather relish in their failed budgets than talk about how we can move our state forward (state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, oped, March 1, “Will this be year GOP backs budget?”).

Based on recent comments by the Senate Democrat leader, it’s clear that Connecticut Democrats still have no idea how severely their policies have damaged our state. Instead of acknowledging this reality, Democrats issued a veiled attempt to criticize Republicans because we refused to be an accomplice in sending our state into a fiscal tailspin. It’s mind-boggling.

If Democrats want to dwell in the past, then let’s be honest about what has happened to Connecticut. There’s a reason we are facing a nearly $3 billion budget deficit, a sluggish economy, and the loss of companies such as GE — and it’s a direct result of the policies Democrats forced upon our state under their single party rule.

Democrat budgets have resulted in the two largest tax increase in state history, driving job creators out of our state and throwing our economy into a seemingly endless deficit. Democrat budgets made painful cuts to core social services including funding for those with disabilities, substance abuse treatment, mental health needs, and support for seniors. Democrat budgets arbitrarily and unfairly distributed education funding based on politics, not on need as ruled by a court judge. These policies have made it more difficult for families to climb up and out of poverty. And it was Democrat budgets that have failed to address the long-term financial instability of our state over the last six years.

Republicans won’t vote for a bad budget. Period. That’s why we opposed these recent budgets, and have always offered alternatives in the hopes that lawmakers could come together to work on bipartisan solutions. The year 2007, a time of surplus and a Republican governor, was the last time Republicans voted for a bipartisan biennial budget because under Gov. Jodi Rell’s leadership bipartisan discussions occurred, resulting in an agreement. In every budget year since, Democrat legislators who have held the majority have declined to work with Republicans. They blocked bipartisanship. They repeatedly locked us out of negotiations and rejected our proposals. In fact, when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy most recently called for Republicans and Democrats to work together, Democrats refused to even meet if Republicans were in the same room. That’s embarrassing behavior.

But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from sharing our ideas. Since 2011, Republicans have offered 12 different alternative budget proposals. We made difficult decisions and offered policies focused on sparking economic growth, because all elements of a healthy budget rely on a healthy economy — from jobs to social services. When Democrats who controlled the majority made it explicitly clear that our proposals had no chance of passing, we didn’t need to have a vote to confirm rejection. But we have never shied away from sharing our ideas, owning those ideas and debating those ideas.

Now that Republicans and Democrats are tied in the Senate, it is our hope that this year will be very different. Like every year, Republicans will offer our ideas to balance the budget, protect core services, and make structural changes that put our state on a better path not only for the next year, but for generations to come.
Maybe this will be the year Democrats finally read one of our budget proposals. Maybe they will actually talk to Republicans about how to grow our economy instead of passing policies that hurt job growth. Maybe they will finally understand the importance of a bipartisan biennial budget.

When the people of Connecticut voted more Republicans into the legislature in the last election, they made it clear that they wanted to change the direction of our state. They voted for change. They voted for new ideas. And they voted for a balance of power that will require Democrats do what they have refused to do over the past six plus years: hear our ideas and work collaboratively.

State Sen. Len Fasano serves as the Connecticut Senate Republican Leader. He represents the 34th Senate District, which includes Durham, East Haven, North Haven and Wallingford.