With the political conventions to select gubernatorial candidates for the November elections coming up in the next few weeks, I would like to offer some observations. Regardless of party, these apply to all candidates.
First, we as the general public know the lobbyists and legislators under the gold dome are more interested in their personal benefit and aggrandizement than in improving the lives of 3.5 million Connecticut residents. If they were interested in us, they would have a 401(k) pension instead of the current defined benefit pension, with mileage and years of service included. Most of the news is inside baseball antics that do not change the price of rice (taxes or services either).
As the campaigns have continued with nearly 20 folks of both parties, there has yet to be a clear vision for where we should be in 5, 10, or 20 years. We know, and have known, that teacher and state pensions and healthcare are unsustainable and need to change. That was last year’s news flash, but it does not carry the day going forward. It is not a sufficient policy to run the state.
We don’t want tolls, but do we want I-84 to fall down? Should Metro North cut services due to deficient track maintenance? Should we close all public transportation? I don’t think so; so what is your plan to fix those things if you agree? If you disagree, you want these things to occur?
We have failing schools, especially in our urban cores. Many ideas are floated, but what has actually worked? Surely, writing off a generation of students that we need for our future workforce is not the answer. What action can you provide to improve those outcomes quickly? Why should we keep the status quo if we can get better results another way? Isn’t the point to educate students to be independent, productive citizens in a cost effective manner? If so, how do we improve outcomes regardless of the other stakeholders’ interests? Is the main thing (students) really the main thing?
Do we ignore the dikes through Hartford and East Hartford? They are urban areas, but do you really think a major flood event like we saw in Houston last year is our best opportunity for improvement? What about our coastal cities flooding preparations?
What processes of government need to change with the 21st century? Should we be out of any businesses we currently are in? Should we be in something new? Why or why not? How do you reform what government does to give faster, better, and cheaper outcomes to us all?
Connecticut politicians don’t lack for tactics, they lack vision. President Reagan had the shining city on the hill.” Indiana works” is the banner on Indiana state office buildings. What can any gubernatorial candidate say is his/her goal for the state? Can you articulate strategy that will give a working majority of the legislature to pass your agenda? There is a lot of inertia, not action, now.
Most people are happy with their towns because the life there is what they want currently. Many people move out of Connecticut because it does not represent what those people want for a future. We need to make the future what the average resident wants, attract new residents, allowing us all to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. The first person running for governor with a vision embraced by the general public will win it all; so do any of the people running have the vision of where to go that the rest of us might follow and improve our family and friends lives? Or do we need to start over?
Chip Beckett is the Minority Leader of the Glastonbury Town Council.