President Pro Tem of the State Senate Martin Looney, one of the top Democratic leaders in the Democrat dominated General Assembly, has accused loyal opposition Republicans of campaigning. Mr. Looney wrote in a Harford Courant op-ed, “It's one thing to mount a campaign; it's another thing to govern. The Democratic majority in the General Assembly is committed to the hard work of governing.”
Republican leaders in the General Assembly – excluded during Governor Dannel Malloy’s entire term in office, with one notable exception; they were admitted to vote for a hastily written gun control bill – would, and have, heartily agreed with one of the principal gate keepers in the law-making body: Bi-partisanship, flouted by Mr. Looney and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey for five years, is necessary for good governance. Excluded by Democrats from budget making, Republicans have wandered in the dessert for five years, but now the door has been thrown open to them, according to Mr. Looney.
And what do they do? They launch a campaign against a failed Democratic polity that bears no Republican fingerprints. How naughty of them.
The nominal leader of the Democratic Party in Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy, has had a “Damascus Road” conversion. In his recent budget address, in the course of which he has by implication repented for having pursued a failed progressive polity, Mr. Malloy opened his ears, and perhaps his heart, to what can only be called some of the ideas peddled by opposition Republicans. If Republicans are permitted to leave their mark on the current failed budget, it would be reasonable to conclude that the upcoming mid-year budget negotiations had been “bi-partisan,” a term that, for the past four years, has not flown effortlessly from Mr. Looney lips. However, largely because of past treatment by leading Democrats who appear to be stuck in a permanent campaign mode, Republicans are, understandably cautious.
For as many years as both have served in the General Assembly, Democratic leaders Looney and Sharkey have spent money wildly without regard to the economic reality begging at their knees. Along the way, they have made themselves insensible to various business associations, prudent economists and pragmatic politicians. But now, following Mr. Malloy's Damascus Road experience -- occasioned by his throw from a progressive high-horse by bolts of lightning shot from the mouth of General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and others – Mr. Looney has called upon what he regards as the Republican Party cavalry to persuade opposition Republicans from launching what promises to be a successful campaign against Mr. Looney’s progressive lunacy.
Why this Looney bi-partisan cooing now? Well, there is an election looming in Mr. Looney’s future, and he does not wish Republicans to revert to a campaign mode during current budget deliberations. So then, here is Mr. Looney’s cri de coeur: “The Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the MetroHartford Alliance, our chambers of commerce, largest employers and leading corporate CEOs must demand that Republicans remain at the bipartisan bargaining table rather than walk away, as they did in December at a time when bipartisan compromise was possible had they stayed.”
Mr. Looney, a big city progressive in thrall to Connecticut’s powerful union lobby, has yet to suggest that Republican leaders should be chained to their desks and thumb-screwed until they submit to his own demands for fewer budget cuts and more revenue enhancements – i.e. more spending and higher taxes.
Two days after Mr. Malloy appeared in a Stamford “Town Hall Meeting” to sell his new “no-tax-increase” budget to a dubious audience, he quietly approved three percent raises for non-union state employees in December, the increases to take effect on March 4, according to a Yankee Institute media release. Republicans have suggested that all union contract negotiations should be monitored by a bi-partisan group of legislators because the General Assembly is ultimately responsible for allocating diminishing tax resources. That suggestion was given a thumbs down by Democratic leaders in the General Assembly. During his first budget, Mr. Malloy signed a revised spending plan submitted to him by the General Assembly, then negotiated contracts with union representatives that increased a budget bottom line he already had approved. The revised budget was never resubmitted to the General Assembly, which had given Mr. Malloy plenipotentiary powers to accept a re-altered budget without formal legislative authorization. Mr. Malloy said at the time that he would be quite willing to accept the pre-election heat that would arise because of increased spending.
The unorthodox arrangement saved progressives like Mr. Looney the trouble of explaining to their constituents why Democrats -- who have owned the General Assembly and the Governor’s office for the last six years -- were unwilling to put their fingerprints on a pro-tax and spend budget so close to elections. This time around, Mr. Looney is hoping to blame the Democrat regime’s embarrassing budget pratfalls on Republicans whom he and others had pointedly excluded from past budget negotiations, which is on a par with an arsonist blaming firemen for conflagrations that have destroyed houses he has torched.
Good luck with that.