LETTER: Stop writing empty op/eds and start offering concrete ideas

Letter-to-the-EditorNEWTo the Editor:

At the start of the New Year, State Senator Tony Hwang expressed his hopes for a New Year’s resolution at the Connecticut State Capitol in an op/ed in the Jan. 1 Connecticut Post. After reading the title, readers might have expected some concrete proposals for his colleagues in the State legislature. Disappointingly all Sen. Hwang offered was vague platitudes about making “long-term structural budget reforms to restore predictability and sustainability to our state” and quotes from GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt about creating an “ecosystem… that’s willing to fight hard to be competitive and enduring for the future.” Neither Sen. Hwang nor CEO Immelt appear to offer anything in this op/ed to define what any of that might mean.

Sen. Hwang goes on to recommend making “tough decisions now” about spending and not plugging holes with gimmicks, but he offers not one new idea about which tough decisions should be made and what alternative ideas could be brought to bear to put the state on a more sound footing.

The fact is that from 1995-2011, CT had Republican Governors. Former Governor Jody Rell proposed a series of fiscal reforms that she claimed would establish a foundation for recovery while admitting that she was leaving a horrific balance sheet for her successor. She borrowed $1.3 billion against future revenue, drained the last $300 million of budget reserves, and sold $45 million in state assets. In her own words, “quite frankly, the dire circumstances we are facing today will pale in comparison to the challenges that will face the next governor, the next legislature,” Rell said. Her reliance on one-time revenue guaranteed that her successor would be forced to raise taxes. Our current pension deal was negotiated under former Governor Rowland and the only Governor to obtain concessions from the unions has been Governor Malloy.

“Where to start?” Sen. Hwang asks. Ah, now we might be getting somewhere, but no – just more buzzwords and criticism about the Governor and the Democratic majority building a budget on “quicksand”, raising taxes, and cutting services on the most vulnerable among us. “Like any New Year’s Resolution, achieving the “ecosystem” won’t be easy”, he says, “but we need to start now.” Yes how difficult it will be when not a single idea has yet been put forth on what any of this means or how it can be achieved.       

After wasting over 300 words saying nothing, the Senator finally offers a few vague ideas: “Staying focused on controlling state government spending”, “state labor and pension costs must be curtailed”, “a cap on state spending which has teeth”, and containing Connecticut’s borrowing needs. Very well! So exactly where should we cut? What programs need to go? Where will new revenue come from to reduce borrowing and address pressing needs like our crumbling transportation infrastructure? These are the hard decisions that Sen. Hwang has failed to make.

Finally the Senator encourages the public to get involved and “make your voice heard early and often.” Well Senator, here’s some input from some of your constituents: How about making a New Years resolution to stop writing empty op/eds and start offering concrete ideas for how to grow Connecticut’s economy, put people back to work and get the state moving again. Until you and your colleagues do that, no one will take the Republican minority in Hartford seriously.

Heather Dean, RTM D3

Jay Wolk, RTM D5

Liam Burke

Elizabeth Zezima, RTM D4

Executive Board Members, Fairfield Democratic Town Committee


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