“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” –HL Mencken.
Few things in this world pose more complexity than dealing with a budget in Connecticut. As is often the case, many of us will get the initial reaction wrong. There is nothing simple to a document as long as War and Peace that encompasses more interconnectivity than building a robot with artificial intelligence. Many of us will get on our soap boxes and rage against things we see because we fret going back to the same old, same old that has defined this state for a generation, more taxes. Often times, the clear and simple things as Mencken writes are wrong.
Taking a step back from the ledge, this budget achieved some bigger goals than could have been imagined even a couple years ago. A true, honest to goodness spending and bonding cap are preeminent. We had one on the books supposedly since the advent of the income tax. But that spending cap was the Barney Fife of laws, always ignored as toothless and run over whenever a Democrat wanted to stuff the pockets of some constituency. Also putting any state labor contracts in the hands of the legislature, which is supposed to have control of the purse strings of the state, is not only the correct way to do business but a power shift to the legislature that was long overdue.
There were many of us out here in the cheap seats that wanted the Republicans to take their early win in the budgeting process and turn it into the personification of the rampaging GOP elephant. We wanted Connecticut to finally turn blue to red. As Chris Healy ably summized, those of us who had a knee jerk reaction to the agonizing gait of politics in “Land of steady habits.”
“Let the public get a final taste of extreme misery and they will vote Republicans into power in a year. These Republicans ask, “why give Democrats cover?” or “they wouldn’t help us in similar situation. Screw ‘em.”
Although a subtler message than the typical tax and spend liberal policies that have finally resonated into the slimming the Democrat majority, these changes are monumental in the glacial pace of political change in Connecticut. Several Republican legislators voted against the budget because it still had small tax increases and they had made commitments to their districts not to vote as such. Given time to explain this to their constituents, they may have been able to make a case for voting in favor of this proposal. Even with time, many would have suffered due to the finely nuanced achievements contained in this budget. The taxpayers of the state are in a siege mentality and no matter how much explanation will only see more taxes.
The mission for Republican candidates going forward will be to explain the seed change that just took place. In what appeared to be a case of snatching defeat from the hands of victory, deep reforms were put into place that democrats will now have to answer for. Senator Len Fasano and Minority Leader Themis Klarides showed us they know how to play poker under the bright lights and the valuable lesson any good poker player knows, you can’t bluff a fool. There was no bluffing Governor Dan Malloy nor his cohorts Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney or Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz when it came to attempting an override of the Governor’s veto. Wishing it were so was not enough. They took their hand and built on their chip stack.
William Arthur Ward once said, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” Connecticut Republicans have trimmed the sails after tacking away from the storm engulfing the state. As Healy aptly points out, “At some point, you have to save what you can or there will be nothing left when the chance to govern arrives.” Those of us who would rather the spinnaker be deployed are now seeing the storm jib was the better choice.