Letter: Hwang should offer ideas, not empty rhetoric on state issues
Published 6:36 am, Sunday, January 31, 2016
In an op/ed in the Jan. 1 Connecticut Post, state Sen. Tony Hwang expressed his hopes for a new year’s resolution at the Connecticut State Capitol. Readers were disappointed to find that all Sen. Hwang offered were vague platitudes about making “long-term structural budget reforms” and quotes from GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt about creating a new “ecosystem … for the future.” Neither Sen. Hwang nor Mr. Immelt offer anything in this op/ed to define what any of that might mean.
Sen. Hwang went on to recommend making “tough decisions now,” but he offers not one new idea about which tough decisions should be made and what alternative ideas could be brought to bear to put the state on a more sound footing.
The fact is that from 1995-2011, Connecticut had Republican governors. Jody Rell proposed a series of fiscal reforms that she claimed would establish a foundation for recovery, but admitted that she was leaving a horrific balance sheet for her successor: borrowing $1.3 billion against future revenue, draining the last $300 million of budget reserves, and selling $45 million in state assets. “...quite frankly, the dire circumstances we are facing today will pale in comparison to the challenges that will face the next governor,” Rell said. Her reliance on one-time revenue guaranteed that her successor would be forced to raise taxes. And our current pension deal was negotiated under former Republican Gov. Rowland.
“Where to start?” Sen. Hwang asks, but he offers nothing concrete. “Like any New Year’s resolution, achieving the ‘ecosystem’ won’t be easy,” he says, “but we need to start now.” Yes, difficult indeed as not a single idea is put forth on what any of this means or how it can be achieved.
The senator finally offers a few vague ideas: “Staying focused on controlling state government spending,” “state labor and pension costs must be curtailed.” Very well! So exactly where should we cut? What programs need to go? Where will new revenue come from to address pressing needs like transportation? These are the hard decisions that Sen. Hwang has failed to address.
Finally the senator encourages the public to “make your voice heard early and often.” Well senator, here’s an idea: How about making a new year’s resolution to stop writing empty op/eds and start offering concrete ideas. Until you and your colleagues do that, no one will take the Republican minority in Hartford seriously.
Heather Dean, RTM D3
Jay Wolk, RTM D5
Elizabeth Zezima, RTM D4
Fairfield Democratic Town Committee executive board members