L. Scott Frantz It’s time to be optimistic
We have all lived through what will undoubtedly be considered the worst decade in Connecticut’s economic history with the exception of the Great Depression. The two largest tax increases in state history resulted in the 48th highest tax burden per person in the country. Basic services have been cut year after year — the consequence of chronic budget shortfalls. Jobs growth is flat and the state economy is stagnated.
In 2008 it was clear to me, and to many, that if Connecticut was going to have a chance, we would all have to step in and help. That is why I ran for the state senate and since then have been working to make fundamental changes to the way that our state governs. It hasn’t been easy. One-party control for more than 40 years is never a good idea trying to turn things around while that party is still in control takes a lot of effort. We are fortunate that so many good people have stepped up to try and do just that.
Today, I am more optimistic about our future than I have been in a long time. I am optimistic because, for the first time in generations, we were able to craft not just one, but two bipartisan budgets that fundamentally change everything. What changed and why does it matter so much?
Connecticut now has in real safeguards in place that ensure responsible budgeting and borrowing practices and protect against irresponsible decision making. For the first time ever, there is a strong, well-defined spending cap that limits spending increases to a level that is actually sustainable: the rate of inflation or the rate of personal income growth.
For the first time ever, there is a powerful bonding cap that prevents excessive borrowing. For the first time ever, there is a volatility cap that guarantees surplus capital gains revenues are placed in the Rainy Day Fund.
All three of these safeguards are secured by a bond lock, which means that Connecticut is legally bound to maintain these spending and revenue restraints and that they are virtually impossible to break for more than a decade.
These revolutionary changes would not have been possible had it not been for the new balance of political power in the state senate. The majority party had to listen to our solutions, and I am encouraged that they not only listened; some actually embraced our new approach. As co-chair of the Finance Committee, I am proud of this monumental achievement and know that if we can keep the current leadership in place or improve our numbers, we will continue to move forward. I am confident that ideas that are less than well thought-out and often endanger our state’s progress will no longer have a place in Hartford.
I am optimistic because we have a chance to choose a new governor after surviving a dismal stretch of poor policy decision making by the outgoing governor, who spiraled downward and became one of the most disliked governors in the entire country. He landed at the bottom for a variety of reasons, the most significant of which was the dismal economic performance tied to his massive tax increases and punishing regulatory environment as well as the state’s overall poor business environment. We have the chance for a fresh start this November; to elect a new leader who genuinely understands business and economic development.
I am optimistic because the people of Connecticut have seen the benefits of a having more political balance in the State Senate and House. I do believe they will continue to vote to increase the number of fiscally responsible people in both chambers so we can look forward to a much more secure fiscal foundation going forward. Cleaning up our balance sheet remains the priority for voters because they know that is the only way to restore economic development, the overall business climate, and to fully fund essential services. Connecticut voters get it.
I am optimistic because business leaders sense the change in the air as well and have been making decisions that reflect the benefits of this change in leadership. As co-chair of the Commerce Committee, I spend a tremendous amount of time with business executives and employees who fully understand that a state’s performance and success are all due to strong leadership. They are feeling more confident than they have in a decade because they can see the change coming.
I am optimistic because consumer spending has picked up; critical to sustainable economic performance. When the economy is doing well, people benefit significantly, both directly and indirectly. Consumers are smart, and they sense that the tide will turn when those who know how to get things done are voted back into office to work with vibrant new leadership in the Senate, House and governor’s office.
I believe the voters of Connecticut have had enough and trust that Connecticut voters will absolutely get it right. We have worked hard to build a solid foundation and now that it is set, finally, Connecticut is poised for an incredible comeback.
Greenwich resident L. Scott Frantz is the Republican incumbent state senator representing the 36th district, which includes Greenwich and parts of New Canaan and Stamford.