Soon to be former Governor Dan Malloy might easily imagine himself in the role of the man who fell to earth from Mars.
Here is Malloy speaking about the “gridlock” in the General Assembly: “We have discussions that are on hold with companies that want to enlarge their footprint or move to our state who said, ‘Hey, listen, when you get a budget, we’ll have further discussion,’” Malloy said. “We’re going to lose thousands of jobs, potentially, because we can’t do the hard work that we were elected to do? That makes no sense at all.’’ The clanging irony in these lines – Malloy has chased more jobs and money out of Connecticut than any other Governor in recent memory – no longer shocks people stunned by his reckless policies.
Malloy’s is a voice that comes from a far shore. Gone – perhaps forever – is the notion peddled by Malloy in nearly all his campaigns that budget black-holes have been created by his predecessors, Republican Governors Jodi Rell and John Rowland. Malloy “inherited” these problems, we were told countless times, from do-nothing Republican governors. Actually, it is Democrat dominated legislatures that have paved Connecticut’s road to Hell, and the General Assembly has been the exclusive preserve of the Democrat Party within the living memory of even ancient Connecticut editorial writers.
If budgets were the sole responsibility of governors, Malloy would not now be bemoaning gridlock in the General Assembly. For the time being at least, Malloy has been granted plenary powers over Connecticut’s government. He currently disposes of more extensive executive power than ever did his gubernatorial predecessors, Democrat or Republican. Sharp-eyed political commentators and opposition party leaders in the General Assembly suspect that Malloy’s extraordinary accretion of plenary power was all along part of an artful Democrat strategy, the supposed frisson between the Governor and Democrat leaders in the General Assembly being a politically convenient pose.
As head of state, Malloy has been able to reject out-of-hand a Republican budget that passed both houses of the Democrat controlled General Assembly, the only budget yet presented to the state’s lawmaking body. On a suspicion that Connecticut’s left-leaning Supreme Court will support a Superior Court judgement that the state’s distribution of funds to municipalities is unconstitutional, Malloy has rejiggered state education funding progressively so that so called “rich” municipalities will receive no funding at all, while state collected taxes due to 28 townships will be redistributed to so-called poor municipalities, most importantly for Democrats large population centers that depend for their sustenance on the kindness of ruling Democrats.
This state of affairs – entirely the result of a single party hegemonic General Assembly and a Democrat Governor who lacks only a crown to be king – is now to be shifted onto the shoulders of the Republican minority in the General Assembly. Really, if Republican legislators and a handful of moderate Democrats do not come to heel and fall in line with ruling Democrat leaders in the Governor’s office and the state legislature, they alone must bear the inevitable consequences of Democrat misrule.
Even though Malloy vetoed the bipartisan Republican budget, the great compromiser is, we are to suppose, working mightily to bring together both sides in the budget stand-off, while washing his hands of any responsibility for the predictable gridlock. Following Malloy’s veto of the only budget affirmed by the General Assembly, the lame-duck Governor is insisting that the approved Republican budget should not be a point of departure for budget discussion. The two parties in dispute must begin from ground zero, according to the Governor fallen from Mars.
Some architects of the sole budget that passed muster in the General Assembly are amused that Malloy, the author of the two largest tax increases in state history, is now frowning over the prospect of Republican budget tax increases. In the manner of a drunkard swearing off alcohol, Malloy has promised several times to eschew further tax increases, but ideologically disposed Democrats in the General Assembly have yet to embrace Malloy’s oath. The chatter about tolls, an additional progressive tax on redundantly rich managers of hedge funds, a mileage tax, a tax on cell phones and many other revenue enhancers continues apace as the Governor pretends – for what reasons no one can guess – that he has just alighted from Mars on a strange planet he has not been governing for the past two terms.
In Malloy’s sinking boat is a knot of moderate, Ella Grasso Democrats, faithful to the bitter end progressive Democrats, and Democrat soldiers used to jumping through hoops whenever one or another caucus leader in the General Assembly barks a command. Progressives especially will have a tough time selling their product to an increasingly dubious voter base in the upcoming elections – because nothing Democrats have done during the entire Malloy administration has pulled Connecticut from the mire. And, as indicated by Malloy’s abysmal approval rating, a reckoning is long overdue.