Friday, January 30, 2015

Malloy On Bipartisan Budget Negotiations

Republican leaders in the General Assembly want to discuss budget adjustments designed to liquidate an entirely predictable deficit with Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic leaders in the General Assembly behind closed doors. Devon Puglia, Mr. Malloy’s Director of Communications, has other ideas

"The governor is out there making the tough decisions to make Connecticut stronger in the short- and long-term,” said Mr. Puglia, “ and we don't believe any one party has a monopoly on good ideas. However, if you have ideas, share them with the governor's office and with the public — because we should have a free and open debate about our future."

But the governor DOES believe that one party, his own, should have a monopoly on good or bad budget ideas, and that is why, when entering office during his first term, Mr. Malloy made certain that there were no Republicans at the budget negotiation table when he hammered out his first budget. Mr. Puglia is new to his position, and so, having no personal recollection of past events, he may be forgiven for having misdirected the media on the point.

It is indisputably true that Mr. Malloy was the prime mover in the formation of his first budget; as such, HE no doubt will recall both the absence of Republican leaders in the room while he was shaping his first budget with union leaders and the extraordinary powers conferred on him by the Democratic controlled General Assembly, information the governor might charitable have shared with his communications director.

The General Assembly first approved the governor’s budget; negotiations were then opened between Mr. Malloy and SEBAC, a coalition of state unions, which negotiations materially changed Mr. Malloy’s pre-approved budget; and although a) no Republican fingerprints ever appeared on the budget during closed door negotiations, and b) no one in Connecticut’s media was ever invited to attend the secret budget negotiations, the re-altered budget was never resubmitted for approval to the General Assembly, which is constitutionally obligated to affirm final budgets. Does Mr. Malloy really believe that closed door negotiations with the usual culprits – most especially the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly -- ought to be publicly ventilated? Answer: He does not.

Mr. Puglia, to be sure, could have no personal memory of these events, all of which were widely reported in Connecticut’s media. If anyone has budget ideas, Mr. Malloy announced through his communications director, those ideas ought to be shared with the public “because we should have a free and open debate about our future." Is Mr. Malloy here indicating repentance at having in the past failed to include Republicans, the elected representatives of a good many citizens, in forming the most important single piece of legislation addressed during any fiscal year? Answer: He is not; he will not. Is he now willing to share with the general public any and all pre-budget negotiations? Answer: He is not willing to do so, and he has not in the past done so.

Though Mr. Puglia’s personal memory of events does not include such telling details, Connecticut’s media has a fresh and more expansive memory of recent history; indeed news reports are, among other things, a mnemonic record of events.

And so, when Mr. Malloy’s new media director stepped forward to offer Mr. Malloy’s “take” on a Republican plea to be included in any and all closed doors negotiations affecting budgets, there ought to have been a certain amount of tittering in the room.

When – EVER in Connecticut history – has ANY governor thrown open the doors to the media on budget negotiations that had not yet been approved by the General Assembly? The answer is – never.

Mr. Malloy declined during his first term in office to engage Republicans in serious closed door budget negotiations because he wished to press forward his own solutions to budget deficits without being put to the bother of entertaining disturbing ideas from Republicans that might have impeded his prearranged plans to liquidate the deficit, the most important feature of which was the largest tax increase in state history. Mr. Malloy could and did govern without Republican participation because, for the first time since the colonial period in Connecticut history, state government – including  the governor’s office, all the state’s constitutional officers, all the members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional delegation and both houses of the General Assembly – had fallen into the hands of a single party. Mr. Malloy is the first governor in Connecticut history who might truthfully boast – through his usual mouthpiece, of course – “l’etat, c’est moi” (I am the state), a piece of impudence attributed to Louis XIV of France, the “Sun King.”

In a “democratic” government controlled by a single party, such pretensions are cloaked in false genuflections to a befuddled citizenry: OF COURSE no single ruling party has a monopoly of power; and OF COURSE the reigning power would like to conduct the public business in public -- if the party might thus benefit by the subterfuge of a carefully hidden “open government.”

Post a Comment