In Connecticut’s last two elections, the Democrats slaughtered Republicans in massacres that would have embarrassed Genghis Khan. President Trump was obliterated in 2020 by over 20 points and in 2022, the Democratic gubernatorial, senate and congressional candidates all won by comfortable double-digit margins while the Democrats increased their control of the Senate to 24-12 and the Assembly to 98-53.
Thus, the 2023 legislative session should have been a liberal bacchanalia. Instead, it became a surprisingly bipartisan session with large majorities in both houses voting in favor of tax cuts and other compromise legislation. Why?
Gov. Ned Lamont morphed into a fiscally responsible Republican. I am not sure what happened here as brain transplant technology has not been perfected yet. Maybe it was because the state was flush with COVID cash and capital gain tax receipts from a surprisingly resilient stock market. Or perhaps the governor’s hedge fund pals at the club were complaining that high taxes were cutting into their ability to add more Chateau Lefite-Rothschild wine to their collection. Or maybe it was the Governor’s failure to enact tolls after his 2018 victory.
Whatever the case, Governor Lamont stated: “I don’t want more taxes in Connecticut. I want more taxpayers.”
The result was the largest tax cut in Connecticut history, not only for middle class wage earners but for pensioners who have been abandoning the state in droves. Connecticut even paid off a portion of its unfunded pension liabilities and has over $3 billion in its Rainy Day fund.
Conservative purists will point out that Connecticut still has one of the largest unfunded pension liabilities in the country and our taxes are still outrageously high; and they would be correct. But given the interminable liberal pressure to spend more money on social problems, this was a remarkable accomplishment.
The secular left got its clock cleaned. Suburban white liberals introduced legislation for physician-assisted suicide, an amendment to the Constitution to enshrine abortion rights, paying the travel expenses of women from other states seeking abortions, promoting gender dysphoria treatment without parental consent, punishing students for not using preferred pronouns among other socially liberal legislation. Virtually none of this passed.
This was due to highly organized opposition led by the Family Institute of Connecticut, the Catholic Conference and the Connecticut Republican Assembly who coupled with nascent grassroots parental organizations to stop this legislation.
But another phenomenon is that Hispanic and Black Democrats represent awakening culturally conservative districts who also oppose this. In an op-ed stating her opposition to physician-assisted suicide (euphemistically called aid in dying), State Rep. Trenee McGee, a Black Democrat, stated: “Expanding access to quality, affordable health care is central to the quest for racial justice, which is one of many reasons I stand in strong opposition to proposed legislation that would create government-assisted suicide in Connecticut.”
Furthermore, minorities are tired of seeing abortion clinics in their neighborhoods while liberal white towns such as Westport would never allow one in their commercial district. And they do not want teachers and educrats promoting gender transition treatments to their children without their consent.
The climate change agenda failed again to raise gas taxes. Connecticut’s citizens already have some of the highest energy bills in the country because the climate change lobby has lobbied to enact legislation forcing the state to use unreliable sun and wind power. When a heat wave or cold wave arrives, these modalities become overwhelmed forcing Connecticut to purchase energy produced by fossil fuels from other sources at high prices.
In a previous legislative session, the climate change lobby attempted to pass a cap-and-trade system that would have raised gas prices. It failed. During this session, they made a sneaky attempt to bypass the voters and have the head of the Department of Environmental Protection enact cap-and-trade without legislative input. This failed too.
Thankfully, Connecticut has a part time legislature and citizens are safe from further liberal legislation and taxes unless a special session is called. But in 2024, there will be a shorter session and you never know what mischief the liberals will propose. Hopefully the governor and the conservative lobbying groups can hold the line.
Dr. Joseph Bentivegna is an Ophthalmalogist in Rocky Hill.