Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

April 18, 2016 Editorial

Leadership doesn’t equate to popularity

During last week's victory parade, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy awkwardly faced a spattering of boos when he was handed the microphone to heap praise on the UConn women's basketball team for winning their fourth straight national championship.

The response wasn't all that surprising. Faced with continual budget deficits since being sworn into office in 2011, Malloy has had to manage fiscal crisis after fiscal crisis and is now being forced to slash major spending, leading to state employee layoffs and myriad special interests with lighter pocketbooks.

Indeed, Malloy's popularity is likely reaching another low point (58 percent of voters disapproved of his job performance, according to a Quinnipiac poll released in October), but that's not necessarily a bad sign for the state.

To be an effective government leader in Connecticut these days isn't about being popular; it's about making extremely difficult decisions that will anger a large portion of the electorate, but hopefully get us on a stronger, stable fiscal and economic footing.

We aren't endorsing all of Malloy's policies or tactics. We feel his attacks on hospitals have gone over the top, and his previous tax increases have weakened our state's economy. Neither he nor Democrats or Republicans in the House or Senate have been able to articulate and implement structural reforms that solve our long-term budget problems, while also promoting economic growth.

But Malloy's approach to cut spending rather than raise taxes to manage the latest deficit threat is the right one, even if it's drawing the wrath of state labor unions and others.

Let's be honest, Malloy is in a no-win situation and the only way he could become a popular governor is if he ignores our state's budget problems and kicks the can down the road. It's an approach all too common in Connecticut state government, and one that got the state into its current predicament. Unfortunately, there are no cans left for lawmakers to kick.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin faces a similar challenge as Malloy. The young Democrat and former Malloy general counsel was voted into office with widespread, even exuberant support from a wide-ranging constituency, but he has already drawn the ire of unions, nonprofits and others for proposing to create a financial sustainability commission to help oversee the city's finances.

The commission would have been able to re-negotiate and control labor contracts. Bronin was also seeking the ability to levy a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes fee on nonprofits and a surcharge on the largest commercial property owners, but his plan was soundly rejected by the city council and now appears dead in the state legislature.

Politically, Bronin probably made a mistake proposing such a far-reaching plan during his first few months in office, expending political capital without much to show for it and engendering organized labor's mistrust.

But we supported the commission because we realize there are no easy answers to remedy Hartford's fiscal crisis, which includes deficits approaching $100 million (out of a $530 million-plus budget) over the next few years.

Major structural reforms are precisely what the state and city need, but implementing them won't be easy or popular. To be effective, Malloy and Bronin must detach themselves from the whims of public opinion and develop policy that will drive long-term economic growth and stability, even if it comes at the expense of their political futures.

Read more

State must reform budgeting process

Unusual CT tax experiment could get new life

No good options for city or state

State's lockbox proposal may be unenforceable

Sustainability commission should be supported

Legislative process remains broken

Employers part of solution in closing income gap

Hartford's budget-balancing options dwindle

Proactive businesses avoid tax hikes … for now

Weary legislators depart, leaving behind flawed system

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF