Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rell and Democratic Leadership Hammered In Poll: Voters Are Catching On

Connecticut voters have given both Jodi Rell and the state legislature the raspberries, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.
The poll shows Rell’s favorability rating plummeting from a high of 83 percent in January to 65 percent in July. Her rating was further degraded when, after a month spent excoriating tax and spend Democrats, she permitted a budget largely fashioned by Democratic leaders President Pro Tem of the senate Don Williams and Speaker of the House Chris Dovovan to pass without vetoing it.

The latest poll shows a six point drop to 59 percent after the shakers and movers of state government passed a budget that raises taxes to liquidate a $2 billion deficit.

There are few true spending cuts in the budget, which relies upon one time revenue sources, repealable cuts, a possibly ruinous progressive income tax and revenue transfers.

The poll asked if Rell “copped out” by allowing the budget to pass without her signature.

She had indeed, said a majority of respondents: 56 percent agreed, while 34 percent said she “showed courage.” A large number, 52 percent, disapproved of the governor’s handing of the budget; 42 percent approved.

Poll-Meister Doug Schwartz commented, "Democrats can't take comfort in these numbers since their score on the budget is much lower than the governor's. But Democrats might hope that the Rell juggernaut finally has hit a pothole, which could set the stage for a competitive race for governor next year."

The spendthrift legislature also got hammered in the poll, its approval rating falling to a pitiful 35 percent, which may mean that 65 percent of those polled are propaganda proof, always a hopeful sign

The abysmal rating did not prevent Williams from thumping his chest and then urging the governor “to make the budget cuts a reality. The deep spending reductions in this budget will require belt-tightening and smart choices by executive branch agencies. We urge the governor to meet immediately and frequently with her commissioners to ensure that the requisite cost savings are achieved while critical services are maintained."

In plain-speak, Williams is telling the governor: We made a horrid mess. Here’s a broom; go sweep it up.

Earlier in the year, Democrats baulked at finding $520 million in cuts Rell demanded before she surrendered to Williams’ breathless importunities to impose a progressive income tax on Connecticut’s mini-millionaires.

Politically, Rell has handled budget negotiations ineptly. In future budget wrangles with unbending Democrats, her political opponents now know that if they protract negotiations well beyond the time limit set by law to turn in a budget, steadfastly reject any and all attempts at cutting services, lure the governor into accepting expensive contractual agreements with unions, entice her into private negotiations out of earshot of her party’s leaders and propose once again to cover a deficit by raising the progressive rate, their present from Rell, the governor will cave and declare victory. Democrats already know she blinked at a progressive income tax, and they feel confident that when push comes to shove, she will relent on future progressive tax rate increases – whatever she says before beating a hasty retreat.

Rell’s opposition to tax and spend liberal legislators is no longer credible.

Republican opposition in the legislature is hearty and full-throated, but the Republicans cannot win legislative points with the votes they command. Their best hope is to campaign for a state budget referendum and to support open government internet postings, taking as their template Florida’s House Bill 971 passed in March of this year, which requires every governmental expenditure to be posted on an internet site five days prior to the passage of any legislation. A future column will explore the benefits of complete governmental transparency.

Democrats, with an assist from a compliant media, will be banging the governor over the head with their broom handle for a long while. Rell made any “deep spending reductions” impossible when she agreed to union salary demands before she began to negotiate with Williams and Donovan, an old union hand.

She’d better get used to the lumps.
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