The chances for a long, hot summer at the Connecticut state Capitol are getting better as there appears to be no solution in sight to solve the impasse over a new, two-year budget. The Democratic governor is routinely slamming the work of the Democratic-controlled legislative committees. The two sides seem miles apart on how to close a budget gap that could top $3 billion as things stand now.
Interestingly, it’s legislative Republicans who have seemed more like the adults in the room, or, uh, the adults outside the room. They should be let in. The Day of New London editorialized as such. The paper’s right. The GOP may have something to add. They certainly couldn’t hurt an already stalemated situation. And if one wants to be cynical about it, we all know whatever resulting budget is passed will be u-g-l-y so why not make them own a piece of the pig?
The Shad’s view is that the new Republican legislative leadership is more measured, more reasonable, more serious. Long gone are Sen. Lou DeLuca, a bully of the worst kind. (I always had a feeling he wanted me whacked); Rep. Bob Ward, an ardent ideologue and Rep. Larry Cafero, a blowhard who fashioned himself as quite the comic but was in reality, simply a clown.
New Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano is a rational, smart and judicious lawmaker. He’d be an asset in any budget negotiation and oddly, would benefit the governor as he would also strive to limit any tax increase. He’d also add balance. (We’re not really counting former Sen. John McKinney, another evenhanded and practical voice, because he didn’t have enough time as Senate GOP leader.)
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides has a rocky relationship with the governor to say the least. But she’s also bright, thoughtful and most importantly, isn’t Cafero. That’s reason enough to let her in the room.
The reality is that no Republican will get to sit at the negotiating table despite the fact they represent a sizable—yet a minority—of Connecticut voters. The reason is that their budget-solving ideas rely largely on labor concessions. Unions are the mother’s milk of Democrats so there’s no way they’ll let the Republicans in the door.
It’s a bit misleading to say the GOP would ask for a third round of givebacks from labor since 2009. What they are really looking for is the savings that the first two rounds were supposed to produce but didn’t.
It all adds up to parsed rhetoric from the governor and legislative Democrats as Republicans have their noses pressed up against the window, looking into the negotiating room, longing for a seat at the table as vacations get cancelled, weddings missed and summer fun ruined.