Gov. Ned Lamont and the General Assembly are to be commended for their fiscal prudence. Their management of the state government has resulted in significant budget surpluses. They have wisely invested $1.6 billion of our previous budget surplus in our underfunded state pension system. Their investment protected Connecticut’s commitment to valued workers and retirees and avoided future tax increases to bail out what could have become a bankrupt system.
Through the most difficult of times, their continued prudence has amassed another surplus of over $3 billion. Many worthy ideas have been floated; among them would be funding efforts to close our nation-leading wealth gap between some of America’s most wealthy and most poor. The vision and courage of Sens. Martin Looney, John Fonfara, and Rep. Sean Scanlon have shown a bright light on this terrible situation: Billionaires and the destitute living cheek to jowl while the state looks on in cold detachment.
America, as well, is coming to grips with the immoral concentrations of wealth, increased poverty, and the hollowing out of the middle class, as we see in President Joe Biden and the Connecticut delegation’s efforts, led by U.S. Reps. John Larson (D-1st District) and Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District), to expand Social Security, family leave, and Medicare. The federal government has the power to make the rich pay their fair share to fund the commitments to public health, opportunity, security, and equity. The most effective way to close the gap between the rich and poor is through these national measures. These efforts by Connecticut Democrats deserve our support, and they deserve our votes.
We can invest our $3 billion surplus in the most important social program: Jobs! But, simultaneously, we can fund the fight against the biggest threat to our future: Climate change.
The $3 billion can fund the jobs to:
- Save our coast;
- Reduce transportation pollution;
- Generate renewable electricity; and
- Clean our water.
We have shown wisdom to invest in things with long-term benefits to Connecticut. At this critical time, there is no long-term investment more important than fighting climate change and creating jobs for our neighbors to do so.
Bill Finch is a member of the Connecticut Labor-Management Coop Committee and the former Mayor of Bridgeport. Aziz Dehkan is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.