Sunday, July 21, 2019

Lamont Fools Around



Gail Lavielle
You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. – Abe Lincoln

If Governor Ned Lamont -- approval rating at the end of April 33 percent -- fails re-election to a second term in 2023, the inscription on his political tombstone may well read, “He flopped when he should have flipped.” The serial mistakes of the Lamont administration so far are beginning to look alarmingly like incompetence.

Rep. Gail Lavielle of Wilton, a former ranking member of the Education Committee and now a ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, not easily appalled, said she was appalled at the process deployed by the Lamont administration to select the Commissioner of the State Board of Education.

Lamont first selected then unselected Bloomfield Superintendent James Thompson as Commissioner because, Lavielle said, he thought he had the authority to do so without first gaining assent from the State Board of Education. In appointing his other commissioners, the governor needs only legislative confirmation, and snuffing an appointee as he did would not ordinarily  have received widespread unwanted attention . Since the General Assembly is controlled by Democrats, the corpse easily could have been tucked under the bed without much public notice.

“It’s so amateurish,” said Lavielle. The events of the week made Lamont “look even more unfamiliar with the process and the state Board of Education. As in other areas, like transportation and economic development, the administration appears adrift. That’s bad enough, but what makes this even worse is that these continual fits and starts postpone any serious effort to deal with Connecticut’s pressing education issues."

Perhaps, Lavielle asserts, the governor and others should focus attention on  educational performance issues: “The persistent low performance in so many of Connecticut's schools is one of the most serious issues facing the state. And yet, our governor didn't do anything to make it a priority during his first legislative session. He even neglected to follow the proper procedure for appointing a new commissioner, missing his chance for early guidance in developing a new education policy and direction. That's one reason why his administration was left floundering, banking on an unworkable notion of school regionalization that turned out to be unpopular, embarrassing, and a waste of time."

After eight months in office, long after Lamont’s honeymoon period had elapsed, the new administration should not wish to be thought “adrift.” And yet, here we are.

The toll thing went over like a lead balloon. During his campaign for governor, Lamont set upon a course that would not greatly inconvenience Connecticut’s already over-taxed milch cows. Preceding Governor Dannel Malloy, now the consiglieri of New Hampshire’s seven-campus university system, had rung the udders dry with two massive tax increases. Lamont would force truckers only to pay tolls.

Once in office, he was plagued with second thoughts – possibly realizing, after he had been coached by the General Assembly’s gatekeepers, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz and Present Pro Tem of the State Senate Martin Looney, two far left legislators, that the haul would be insufficient to pay for the state’s improvident spending during the last three decades. And so, Lamont settled on his deep dream: toll gantries would pockmark the state, and everyone would pay their “fair share.” While boasting that he did not in his new budget raise income tax rates, Lamont broadened sales taxes, eliminated tax credits, increased business costs, and ended up boosting revenue – while leaving the state’s wild spending spree untouched --  almost as much, if not more so, than his predecessor.  

Lamont’s toll dream bubble was pierced by the No Tolls CT movement. For a brief shining moment, it appeared that a populist upheaval had dethroned utopia.  Then came the flip, followed by the flop. Lamont was back to square one; the state would toll only trucks, and perhaps put a few tolls on some rusted bridges, so that it might avert future Mianus River Bridge collapses – the tolls to disappear after the necessary repairs had been made.

And if you believe that, 99 percent of taxpayers in Connecticut – minus 99 percent of the state political commentators – no doubt are thinking, I’ve got a bridge in New York I’d like to sell you. The state needs a new revenue source because it has spent all the money it has collected in taxes since the institution of the income tax – and progressive utopianists now need more.

The more you get, the more you spend, and the more you can get, the less time you have to spend cutting spending. People want this government to cut spending – permanently and long term. No one should trust this government, because this government has not been trustworthy. And it is only a matter of time before most of the people who have been made fools of most of the time by legislators at the beck and call of spending constituencies begin to feel a justifiable resentment pounding in their blood.

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