It may not be too early to provide a brief autopsy on the Malloy administration, even though the patient is still flopping on the table.
After two terms in office, Governor Dannell Malloy has decided to throw in the towel. He will not be running for re-election in 2018, which is not to say Republicans and Democrats will not be running against Malloy. Some Democrats will be running away from Malloy with their pants on fire, and he likely will serve Republicans as a bludgeon deployed against Democrats in the campaign.
Democrats already have shown they plan to whack Republicans with President Donald Trump, an effort that may fall flat if the nation’s economy continues to improve. Whatever his failings, Trump, most thoughtful voters in the state will realize, was not the author of the largest and second largest tax increases in Connecticut history. Malloy’s progressive policies were championed by Democrats in the General Assembly, most of whom have no plans to retire and resettle in some less tax-punishing state, as did Florida-bound former Republican Governor Jodi Rell.
This year, tied to a Malloy-SEBAC deal that extends state employee union-favorable terms out to 2027, General Assembly Democrats will find themselves defending the indefensible. Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, a union employee, favors an increase in Connecticut’s sales tax, even as Malloy has plainly said, several times, that he will not consider further tax increases as a means for balancing a future budget deficit of $3.5 billion. Malloy, however, has not vowed to veto the Democrats’ tax increase plan – and lame-duckers are far less persuasive than a governor plotting re-election to office. In the absence of a veto threat, tax hungry progressives in the General Assembly doubtless will take Malloy’s often iterated opposition to new taxes with, as Mark Twain says, a ton of salt.
The most progressive governor in Connecticut history, Malloy has just rejiggered state education support to municipalities, introducing a progressive transfer of state funding at the distribution end. So called rich towns in Connecticut will find their state education funding cut, and state funding in so called poor towns will increase proportionally. As a result, state money will flow from municipalities in which public schools are successful to municipalities -- mostly cities and towns that are not Republican strongholds – in which public schools are pedagogically bankrupt. By way of example, Hartford, Connecticut’s Capital City now teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, will receive education funds that previously had been awarded to, say, New Canaan. This progressive measure, far outlasting Malloy’s terms in office, will serve as a dog whistle to other progressive Democrats in the General Assembly.
Recent headlines on Capitol Report capture well Democrats' efforts to turn the state into a progressive utopia:
Republican leader in the Senate Len Fasano was not reaching for hyperbole when he referred to Malloy’s “dictatorship.” Because progressive Democrats in the General Assembly declined to produce a timely budget – they still have not submitted their budget – Malloy automatically assumed plenary powers, and it was as a temporary dictator that he was able to impose draconian educational state funding cuts on so called rich municipalities, sending local leaders into shock over his school cuts.
Republican State Senator Toni Boucher directly hit the political bulls eye when she asked in a Facebook posting, “Is the Governor trying to force the legislature into approving even more and higher taxes on the CT public by using our schools and local property taxpayers as hostages to pay for his overly generous contracts with state labor unions that left a $3 billion dollar deficit?”
The answer to Boucher’s question is – yes. The flower was in the seed from the very beginning.
Malloy’s popularity rating has been in the tank for much of his administration, the result, his critics suppose, of a bristly nature and ruinous policies that have caused others, both businesses and young potential taxpayers-for-life, to flee the premises with their pants on fire. “Connecticut’s Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy,” Christine Stewart of CTNewsJunkie noted, “still remains the most unpopular Democratic governor in the country, according to a poll by the Morning Consult , but he improved his image slightly jumping to a 29 percent approval rating . Malloy often has said he does not live and die by polls. Really? Would Malloy be leaving his post if his approval rating were, say, 70 percent, Republican Governor Jodi Rell’s average approval rating while in office?
A correlative question, much on the minds of political prognosticators just now, is this: will Democrats in the General Assembly who have aided Malloy be removed from the premises by a politically engaged electorate in 2018?