NORWICH BULLETIN WEIGHS IN ON HANGING SHAD STORY

As the Hartford Court did yesterday, the Norwich Bulletin today runs an editorial on the story The Hangng Shad ran regarding the state House Democrats.

Our view: Lawmakers should cut their own costs
The Bulletin
Posted Mar 22, 2011 @ 11:46 PM

During the next two months, members of the General Assembly will have to adopt and eventually approve a two-year state budget that will likely include cuts to state services and programs, tax increases for citizens and state employee union concessions.

We suggest that lawmakers take a serious look at their own spending habits before asking residents to pay more in taxes and state workers to give back what they’ve earned in order to keep government functioning.

For example, despite seeing their membership decline after the last election, the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives today employs more legislative staff than before the election.

As Patrick Scully, a former Senate Democratic aide, now a consultant, noted recently, despite 15 fewer House Democrats — 14 seats lost in the 2010 General Election and one more in last month’s special elections — the caucus now employs 79 aides, up slightly from the 75 employed during the 2010 session.

One might think that with fewer legislators there would be fewer aides, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. With all the talk about reducing the size of state government, this would appear to be contrary to that call.

Apparently, that increase in staffing — although slight — is within the caucus’ budget, so there is no actual increase in the caucus’ spending.

Still, it’s the appearance that can do more damage to credibility than actions. In this case, the appearance doesn’t match the call for “shared sacrifices,” and when asking others to sacrifice because of dire financial straits, having credibility is a crucial asset.

Granted, the amount of money involved is minor, but when proposing higher taxes or asking workers to take less than what they were promised, one might want to consider leading by example. There’s been no talk of any sacrifices by elected officials.

Lawmakers might want to consider that when drafting a budget that asks others to do “their fair share.”

That’s our opinion. We’d like to hear yours. Send your comments to letters@norwichbulletin.com.
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