The campaign for governor of Connecticut this year has showcased the stark divisions between the two major party candidates on issues that include the state budget surplus, criminal justice, abortion rights, police accountability and affordable housing.
As they have for decades, the Ds and the Rs donned their blue and red jackets, picked up their swords and had at it, spouting ideology but offering few ideas to make government better or to change the direction of our sluggish economy. As usual, the losers in their partisan food fight are Connecticut families and businesses.
Connecticut’s economy has been stagnant for the last 30 years, a problem created by the decisions of our state government. Burdensome regulations and high taxes are the driving force behind our unfriendly business climate and the resultant lack of jobs.
Connecticut’s economy has a variety of ills and most of them are the direct result of state government policies including bottom five rankings in the nation in job growth, bottom five in regulation, bottom five in taxation and bottom five in educational achievement gap and in cost of living.
There are both reasons and blame behind these dismal numbers. For decades, the leaders of the two major political parties in our state have put off paying our bills. We have one of the worst unfunded pension liabilities in the country and debt service is one of the biggest line items in the state budget.
Connecticut’s governors and legislatures have also consistently raided the Special Transportation Fund and used it to pay for the ongoing expenses of state government. They use gimmicks to declare the budget balanced in order to get re-elected so they can kick that debt down the road for four more years.
Connecticut’s economy has produced no net new jobs in the last three decades and employers have no confidence that Connecticut is a place they should grow or invest because government leaders adopt policies that help them win elections instead of policies to strengthen our economy and the social fabric of our state.
Our worst-in-the-nation achievement gap is depriving employers of the numbers of workers they need to expand. Connecticut has 100,000 jobs available to fill right now but will be lucky to fill half that number because of the lack of trained workers due to the achievement gap.
There is a way to fix the Education Cost Sharing formula and close the gap, but there has not been the will in the legislature. The result is a disparate state with poor and wealthy towns side by side like the neighboring towns of Westport and Bridgeport with high school dropout rates of 1 percent and 25 percent respectively.
An Independent governor would be free from partisan pressure and able to pursue the policies that voters wanted — removing impediments for new businesses, expanding our existing small businesses which provide half of all the jobs in Connecticut and fixing the ECS formula.
My priorities and legislative agenda would be driven by Connecticut taxpayers, not a political party. During this campaign for governor, I presented a platform which offered a path for Connecticut to achieve genuine progress. I said the campaign for governor should be about the best ideas, not the biggest bank account.
I put forward honest, substantive policy proposals — to create jobs and expand our economy, to close the achievement gap that is devastating both our economy and many young adults, and to address the affordable housing crisis in Connecticut.
Electing an Independent governor would send a message to the Democrats and Republicans in the legislature that the voters want to get rid of the partisanship, and they want to see progress instead of gridlock. An Independent governor would carry a mandate to make the structural changes needed to drive employment growth.
In November, voters will have an opportunity to send a message to the two political parties who have controlled the machinery of our government for far too long until it has finally ground to a halt — or like our economy, thrown into reverse:
“We want change. We want independent leadership to ensure we are all working together as a team in order to best to meet Connecticut’s challenges.”
Rob Hotaling is the Independent candidate for Governor of Connecticut