Sen. Markley Responds to Aresimowicz

October 11, 2017

By State Senator Joe Markley

As much as I like and respect Joe Aresimowicz, I feel compelled to refute a few of the arguments he put forward in a puzzlingly titled op-ed, “Bipartisanship is the only answer,” which ran in the Record-Journal and Bristol Press on October 4th.

I appreciate the difficulty of the Speaker’s position. He inherited a caucus whose numbers have diminished steadily. Shrinking numbers have led to shrinking courage. The Democrats, long used to raising taxes with impunity to rival King George, have spent ten months scheming to shirk blame for their disastrous policy failures.

Since last election, the Governor and the Democrats have beat the drum of bipartisanship in a desperate attempt to fend off defeat in 2018.

The funny thing is the Democrat leaders never expected the Republicans to be the ones to pass a bipartisan budget, but exactly that happened last month. With the help of a few brave Democrats, the legislature passed a budget authored by Senate Republicans. Before even reading the document, the Governor, in a relapse of partisanship, promised a veto.

That bipartisan budget ought to become law through a veto override. It does have some painful cuts. Given the Democrats’ decades of profligacy, those are unavoidable. Still, the bipartisan budget manages to implement a fair funding formula for public schools, protect hospitals and vital social services, while holding the line on taxes.

I would like to mention education funding specifically, since in his op-ed the Speaker said the budget which passed would, “Decimate the state’s public education system at all levels.”

You know what would decimate public education? A $3 million cut from Southington public schools. That is what the Speaker—who represents Southington—proposed in his September budget. On the other hand, the formula in the bipartisan budget we passed would provide an additional $2.5 million to Southington schools. In other words, the Senate Republican budget put Southington $5.5 million ahead of what Aresimowicz wanted.

Nor did our budget short-change other school systems to benefit towns like Southington. In our proposal, no school system would see a cut for two years even if the new formula called for one. We want all our communities to have time to plan.  Furthermore, we gave towns the flexibility to adjust their budgets to declining enrollment—a measure so commonsensical only radical union leaders can oppose it.

The bipartisan budget could still become law. That would require a few more Democrats to heed the Speaker’s call, and put aside their party for the good of the state and a veto override.