Listening to some politicians and pundits, you’d think we can achieve wholesale change with simple solutions. The inherent dishonesty in that premise has allowed some, particularly those on the right, to draw a line in the sand, an exercise that shows just how unwilling they are to compromise. This “my way or the highway” style of governing has predictably produced stagnation and resentment on all sides.
When I became Governor, Connecticut had the largest per-capita deficit in the nation and an economy that had experienced no net job growth for 22 years. The consequence of 16 years of short-sighted decisions was $1.4 billion depleted from the rainy day fund and a budget that used nearly $2.5 billion in one-time gimmicks and borrowing to cover nearly 9 percent of its operating expenses.
These problems were too big to cut our way out of and too big to tax our way out of. The comprehensive approach we took made sure that we could continue to make investments in the institutions that our residents depend on while at the same time get our fiscal house in order. We cut spending on a current service basis by more than $1.2 billion, but we also increased the state’s contribution for public education by more than $360 million. We restructured our relationship with state employees, saving more than $21 billion over 20 years. But we also held the line on municipal funding so that cities and towns didn’t have to raise local property taxes to pay for critical local services, like public safety. And we put the state’s pension fund on stable ground, saving taxpayers almost $6 billion over the next 20 years.