The nautical mnemonic, “Red, Right, Returning”, came to mind recently, as I thought about our upcoming election and Connecticut’s turbulent challenges. In seeking a safe passage home from the sea, an essential principle is…have the red flashing buoy on your starboard or right side. At sea or in our daily lives, principles matter. They provide the foundation upon which we make key decisions.
For public officials, principles are essential as we weigh competing ideas and pass complex legislation that impacts so many citizens across our state. While knocking on doors this election season, virtually all the folks with whom I spoke want effective delivery of services with fiscal restraint. Period.
Principles offer a clear pathway toward responsible policy-making.
- Respect All People – Treat everyone fairly, no favorites, no special interests. I will say the vast majority of the work we do in Hartford on education, the environment, mental health care, reproductive rights, equal rights, gun safety and education is collegial and bi-partisan.
- Trust your Constituents – Connecticut citizens are well educated, hard working and full of ingenuity. Let them go for it. Trust them. Don’t put unnecessary red tape, fees and taxes in their way. Maximize productivity through “grass roots up” governance.
- Set Realistic Priorities – Allocate our state’s fiscal resources to bring prosperity to all, while recognizing we can’t do everything for everyone all at one time. We must protect those who are most vulnerable first, and then allocate remaining resources to benefit the most citizens, most efficiently by growing our overall economy.
- Do Basic Math – Don’t spend more than we can afford, and shrink our debt by focusing on increasing revenues and managing costs.
Unfortunately, over the past eight years, the Majority party in Hartford has strayed too often from basic governing principles, with dire consequences for the future of our state. Democrats continually support special-interest union contracts, and enact burdensome red tape, fees and taxes that have driven businesses and citizens out of Connecticut at an historic rate.
The majority-Democrats believe ever-expanding government is the preferred solution to many problems. With fixed costs now at 50% plus of our budget, there’s little room to expand services to the most vulnerable nor create programs to proactively benefit our state’s economy. Democrats have left us without a plan to manage billions of unfunded pension liabilities nor our unsustainable budget deficits. CT has the largest debt per capita of any state in the country.
Yet, I do remain optimistic we can rebuild Connecticut. It will require historic change and principled leadership.
We must grow our economy. Connecticut is the only state that has not recovered from the 2008 fiscal crisis. That was ten years ago! We need to make Connecticut more competitive, and, of course, we must shrink our budget deficit. I strongly recommend reading the bi-partisan Connecticut Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth report which you can download from my website (repwood.com). I hosted a well-received presentation by co-chair, Jim Smith, at the Darien Library two weeks ago. The report clearly articulates our issues and outlines reasonable and attainable bi-partisan solutions.
We need new leadership. After getting to know Bob Stefanowski over the last year, I am in strong support of his candidacy for governor. He is a successful businessman, who is widely admired by all with whom he has worked. He listens, respects other’s opinions and offers productive solutions with a temperament suited to the job. I believe Bob’s policies are principled and will reduce our taxes over time, rebalance priorities and focus on delivering more efficient government services in our state.
And, we need to put National rhetoric aside. Focus on Connecticut. I believe women, in particular, need to understand that Connecticut Republicans, including Bob, are fiscally conservative and socially responsible. The vast majority of Republicans serving in our legislature support individual choice in reproductive rights, vote to protect our environment, believe that gay rights are human rights and that reasonable gun safety laws make sense. Just realize that Hartford Democrats are desperately working to distract voters from their dismal fiscal record.
On November 6th let’s make history. We have an opportunity to create real fundamental change. The election this year is about turning our state around and having the courage to take a different path to get us there. We need a new future for our state and for you to vote for it.
This article originally appeared in the Darien Times on Thursday, November 1, 2018.