Opinion: A paucity of leadership


Reprinted with the permission of The Republican-American, a privately owned multimedia news delivery organization with local coverage of 36 communities in New Haven and Litchfield counties. The Republican-American.

Connecticut is without a budget. The legislature did not pass one before the 2017-19 biennium got underway July 1. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will unilaterally control the state’s finances via executive order until a budget is in place.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, has weighed in on the situation. “Any time you have a bipartisan budget, that would be a good thing for … Connecticut, but one way or another, we have to get a budget and we have to get 19 votes to pass something in the Senate,” he told reporters during a July 5 event in New Haven. “So, it is important for us, as Democrats and Republicans, to come together if we possibly can.”

Connecticut certainly needs a budget. However, if he is to help bring to fruition one that will tangibly benefit the state, Sen. Duff will have to engage in serious soul searching. Since becoming majority leader, he consistently has exhibited cluelessness and partisan pettiness.

Sen. Duff assumed his leadership role in 2015. That year and the next, the (then) Democratic-dominated legislature and Democratic Gov. Malloy adopted budgets that epitomize all that is wrong with Connecticut government. We addressed them in detail in previous editorials. The deficits and resulting drain on the rainy day fund speak for themselves.

Sen. Duff was a consistent cheerleader for these budgets. If he wants to give Connecticut residents and business people a budget that will get the job done for them, he and his caucus have to adopt completely different policy mindsets.

Meanwhile, Sen. Duff goes on somewhat frequent tirades against Republican legislators. The senator is fond of portraying Republicans as busybodies who do nothing but complain about Democrats’ work, an out-and-out false depiction.

In a March 1 op-ed column for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, he suggested Republicans haven’t voted for budgets in recent years simply to spite Gov. Malloy – never mind that the GOP held the same budget position during the final years of the tenure of Gov. Malloy’s Republican predecessor M. Jodi Rell. Sen. Duff also claimed Republican senators on the legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee killed a minimum-wage bill in February to curry favor with the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, even though there are legitimate grounds for opposing minimum-wage increases.

With these rants, Sen. Duff looks more like an overgrown child than a mature, cool decision maker.

Hardly anyone will argue Gov. Malloy having sole control of Connecticut’s finances is good for the state. However, Sen. Duff’s modus operandi is not conducive to a favorable resolution. What the senator works for, and how he conducts himself, in the coming weeks will speak volumes about what kind of leader he is.


Missy Conrad July 16, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Remember that Gov Roland & Gov Rell would not raise taxes for many years & did not contribute into the pension fund as needed. Bonding, for which there is so much interest now due, was overused.
We in Fairfield & Litchfield Counties are a bedroom & weekend area. The people who are leaving Connecticut are poorer; they cannot find affordable housing nor jobs that pay a living wage.
Also, our federal government has not been sending back the $ that it traditionally did. The Bush-Cheney Administration declared war & cut taxes at the same time, and standards that would have balanced the financial & home-financing markets were not in place, leading to the Great Recession. Gov Malloy has tried to protect our social services, our principle “to promote the general Welfare.” He has welcomed the stranger, refugees, as the Bible teaches. Gov Malloy has addressed the bail problem. A person can become frustrated with those who mix up business and government.
Our Republican state legislators must speak up to the President & to the Republicans in control of our Congress, who would hear them, to not allocate so much to the military budget (& the Dept of Energy, instead of working on conservation, has focused on nuclear weapons). We on the state & municipal levels should not have to fight over the leftover pennies. The income gap needs to be addressed. People are worried; peace of mind, knowing that one’s government cares, would be such a strength. Do we who are comfortable care enough for our other citizens & residents?

Tom July 17, 2017 at 8:14 am

This tells about 10% of the story. Consider that Malloy can’t even lead his own party, never mind come up with any proactive or pragmatic ideas. Unfortunately, this is not about the Dems but the entire consortium in Hartford. Hartford has not had good leadership since Ella Grasso unfortunately, and the Dems and Republicans share equally in the mess we’re in. What did Weiker, Roland, Rell or Malloy do in their terms as governor that would be considerd “leadership. We have not economic plan, no infrastructure plan and we continue to gut education at every turn. The state is pretty much a dumpster fire at this point due to lack of leadership in this state.

Thanks Hartford,

Keep the dumpster fire burning bright!

Bryan Meek July 17, 2017 at 8:40 am

Interesting. Our state senator campaigns in New Haven. Gets blasted by a Waterbury newspaper. And when it comes to addressing his city’s he is missing in action. At least we have the LWV reminding us it’s all Bush’s fault.

Isabelle Hargrove July 17, 2017 at 11:20 am

Norwalkers have shown a great deal of loyalty to Senator Duff, re-electing him time and time again while getting zero in return as our State continues to short-change Norwalk kids of nearly $30 million annually in education funding.

Many Norwalkers feel that Senator Duff is doing the best that can be done. Well, here is the truth, “Since becoming majority leader, he consistently has exhibited cluelessness and partisan pettiness.” And Norwalk is paying dearly for it.

Senator Duff should have the decency not to run for reelection next year, but assuming that will not be the case, Norwalkers should finally serve their own interest and elect someone else.

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