Aresimowicz: Bipartisanship is the only answer

Published on Sunday, 8 October 2017 21:52
Written by Joe Aresimowicz

Speaker of the House

After the Republican budget narrowly passed the legislature and was deservingly vetoed by the governor, Republican legislators spent more than two weeks campaigning around the state, bragging about how great their budget is for the state, and calling for a veto override vote in the legislature.

So as the Speaker of the House, I gave them that opportunity. On Oct. 3, we convened the House of Representatives, and gave them a chance to discuss, debate, and make the case for their budget that was vetoed by the governor, yet not one Republican legislator stood up to defend it or call for a vote.

In one way, it is not surprising because as it continues to be analyzed and assessed, clearly this Republican budget is severely flawed and not the answer to our fiscal challenges. There may even be some legislators who voted for it that never expected it to actually become law, and prefer that it doesn’t.

The reality is that the Republican budget, which is opposed by school superintendents and our colleges and universities, would devastate working families with higher taxes, decimate the state’s public education system at all levels, and underfund our pension system – precisely the type of irresponsible decisions that created our current fiscal crisis. Republicans were given another chance to lead, and again failed to show up.

With the urgency to come to a budget agreement that can become law growing every day, we needed to put the override discussion in the past, and work together to forge a path to a final budget that reflects the priorities of Connecticut’s residents.

While it is clear that we disagree on some areas, we also have a lot of the same priorities in our budgets. We both agree on changing the relationship between the state and the municipalities, reforming the state contracting system, and phasing out the income tax on Social Security payments.

We need to continue to build on the areas we agree on and work on finding the common ground in the areas we don’t. Throughout this entire budget process I have said that I will draw no lines in the sand and take nothing off the table, because that is not a productive way to negotiate an agreement.

With a disastrous scenario for our schools on the horizon, it is critical that we work together and compromise with the governor and Republicans to reach a bipartisan agreement on a final budget in short order.

Bipartisanship is what the public wants and, with a split Senate and a slim House margin, that is what is needed. That message rings truer and louder with every day that goes by. Every legislator hears it from their constituents at home in their districts.

There is no more room or time for political posturing. The good news is that the two parties are not that far apart on the bottom line, including important areas such as funding for our schools and helping out our hospitals.

Time is of the essence, so let’s all finally put our “D” and “R” labels aside, put up a “C” for Connecticut, and work together for the betterment of our state we all love.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Editorials on Sunday, 8 October 2017 21:52. Updated: Sunday, 8 October 2017 21:55.