Tomorrow the State General Assembly will be called to order in a special session and the main order of business is once again the state budget. This time the proposal is far more damaging to the power of the people than anything in the past.
We have a representative democracy with three distinct branches of government our legislative branch being bicameral, having representatives of the people serving in both the State Senate and the State House. It was intentionally designed to be a deliberative body, with the responsibility to enact laws, set budgets and act as a check and balance on the other branches of government.
Tomorrow the legislature is being asked to grant Governor Dannel Malloy special powers to override the legislature’s authority. There is no doubt we as a state are in a political and monetary budget crisis but eroding the basic foundations of our constitution is not the road to redemption.
The proposal calls for Governor Malloy to be given new authority to do what the legislature has been reluctant to do, reduce spending and change priorities. While the legislature was opposed to reducing aid to the cities and towns and thereby passing the buck to local taxpayers under the new proposal Governor Malloy could do it. We have a governor; we have no need for a Viceroy or King.
Now, after budgets have been set in place, the game could change and local taxpayers will be on the hook. “King Dannel” would have the powers of two branches of government, an unprecedented and dangerous situation.
The founding fathers were wise men with recent experience of government that was not representative of the people. Together in a deliberative body they slowly refined our nation’s constitution and the constitution for the State of Connecticut. The cornerstone of both documents is found in the words, “We the people”. The power should rest with the people and our representatives.
The importance of our three branches of government was made crystal clear by Thomas Jefferson when he said, “If the three powers maintain their mutual independence on each other our Government may last long, but no so if either can assume the authorities of the others.”
There is no doubt we have come to a point of a financial mess in Hartford because of poor decisions of our elected representatives of the people. As a body the General Assembly has failed in their efforts to enact a budget in a timely fashion. Their actions have been disgraceful and regrettable but it does not call for us to destroy our very foundations of government to fix.
While their actions have shown the maturity of a child the solution can be found in words of instruction from parent to child.
“You made a mistake, now you must step up, admit your error and apologize. It is your responsibility to make things right, to correct the situation and fix the problem. This is your opportunity to show the world that you have matured, that you have judgment and ability and what has happened in the past can and will be corrected. While you have faltered and let me down I have faith in you, I have trust in you and I am giving you this opportunity to show me you can do the right thing, don’t let me down. Tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning, now go do what must be done, I am counting on you.”
There are many wise individuals in our legislature, they know right from wrong they must seize the moment, step forward as leaders and do the right thing in the name of the people of Connecticut. It is time to fix the budget and begin to walk down a path of financial responsibility in Connecticut and we do not need to destroy our Constitution to do it. We only need leaders of character, strength and fortitude to step forward and demand that our elected representatives stand for the people and do the job they were elected to do.