HARTFORD COURANT EDITORIAL…

…in today’s edition based on last Friday’s entry of The Hanging Shad.  And check out my interview with WTIC-AM radio’s Ray Dunaway from early this morning.

Connecticut House Democrats: More Staff, Less Work
House Democrats Is caucus oblivious to state’s huge deficit?
March 22, 2011

British author and satirist C. Northcote Parkinson, who gave us Parkinson’s Law, observed that bureaucracies often expand as their workload decreases. That appears to be happening in the Democratic caucus of the state House of Representatives.

As the blog The Hanging Shad reported on Friday, the staff of the House Democrats has increased from 75 to 79 since Nov. 1, even though the party lost 14 House seats in the fall election and one more in a special election.

Has word of the $3 billion-plus deficit somehow not reached into the cocoon-like Legislative Office Building?

A spokesman for the Democrats, Douglas Whiting, who is paid a tidy $162,000 to explain such things, insists that it has. He said that in January, four legislative aides were given pink slips, but told they could stay for most of the session to find other jobs. This, he said, reflected the wishes of House Speaker Christopher Donovan, who prefers to find savings in ways other than layoffs.

Mr. Whiting said that last year, the caucus saved $478,000 of its $5 million budget by such economies as eliminating four-color printing in legislative mailings in favor of less expensive two-color formats and opting for sandwiches instead of hot lunches during all-day sessions. He said the caucus expects to do the same this year.

Mr. Donovan is one of the legislative leaders who over the last three years has either failed to grasp the severity of the recession-driven deficit or failed to do anything meaningful to resolve it. This is an indicator. When the four aides are gone, the caucus will still have the same staff level it had last November, with 15 fewer legislators. Will they give themselves another $5 million budget?

In normal times this all might pass unnoticed, but with tax increases and severe cuts in things such as college scholarships coming, every state entity has to make deep budgetary reductions. When Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called for “shared sacrifice,” he almost assuredly didn’t mean ham and cheese on rye instead of baked chicken.

We understand, as most private companies do, how difficult budgets cuts can be. But look at the deficit. Spending cuts have to be part of the solution, and that includes the legislature.