Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why Connecticut Can’t Cut Spending

Capitol Watch,” a bog written by two Hartford Courant reporters, is reporting that “House Speaker James A. Amann's announcement that he will not seek re-election in November set off a scramble to climb the leadership ladder.”

Presumably House members vying for the position are less experienced than the present occupant of that office, James Amann, who has announced his intention to run for governor. Amann also is less experienced in the rigors of governing the state than the present occupant of that office, Gov. Jodi Rell.

No one from the Democrat camp has yet argued that Amann should not run for governor because in doing so he will be surrendering his office to novices who lack "experience on the job."

The notion that experienced legislators may never be replaced because the state will lose technical proficiency is an argument for reestablishing a monarchy and abolishing elections. This argument is trotted out whenever the word "term limits" are mentioned, and it also figures prominently in newspaper endorsements.

Yet, oddly, when the Republicans – defying both their governor and prominent Democrats – recently suggested that the state might save some money by offering early retirement to state employees, cries of alarm were sounded: Experienced people would be lost; the state would suffer.

Alas, experienced people are lost every year through the usually process of attrition and cutting jobs in tough times is a common business practice in all companies, painful but sometimes necessary. It is not as if the Republicans were proposing to throw state workers out of the plane without a parachute. They are proposing early retirements and job consolidation to fill the gap created when some jobs are not filled.

Reduced to its essence, the Democrats are arguing that the state may never cut spending, for any reason – ever.

That argument may sooth those in state government who believe that the state must never reduce spending, ever – for any reason. Though this clamorous crowd may have purchased the ears of the Democrat majority in the legislature, they are in the minority of people in the state who have been bruised by a sour economy brought on by people who reason that spending must always go up and never come down.

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