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Editorial: Ned Lamont for Governor

Hearst Media Connecticut Link to Article

By just about any account, Connecticut is in an unhappy, uncertain place.

Look at most ranking lists titled “Best place in America to... (pick your topic)” and you will likely have to read down until you find “Connecticut” in a mediocre — or worse — position.

The state’s finances are critically out of whack — $4.5 billion short in the biennium budget set to go into effect on July 1, 2019; pensions underfunded by some $100 billion and demanding annual state contributions so large they choke the state’s ability to spend on other needs. 

How did we get here? It’s easy — and completely inaccurate — to pin it all on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the 63-year-old Democrat who has held office the last eight years and who will turn the power — and the headaches — over to a successor on Jan. 9.

Today’s problems are rooted in decisions — and inaction — dating back at least to the 1990’s, including labor agreements, made during the tenure of former Republican Gov. John G. Rowland.

The challenges will not be solved in a short time. Nor will they be wrestled to the ground by imposed will alone.

All three candidates for governor are businessmen, none with state-wide governing experience.

Oz Griebel, of Hartford, a former Republican running as an independent, is energetic, knowledgeable about transportation needs, and optimistic about the state’s potential. His idea to hold off on funding the state pensions for two years, though, is an approach that contributed to the present plight.

Republican Bob Stefanowski’s proposal to eliminate the state income tax over eight years is unrealistic. The tax — about $9.5 billion annually — represents more than half of Connecticut’s tax revenue. What’s replacing it?

Stefanowski’s style seems to be of the “imposed will” school.

The Hearst Connecticut Media Group Editorial Board believes the best person for the job is Ned Lamont, the 64-year-old Greenwich entrepreneur turned investor.

We believe Lamont’s central strategy to convince existing businesses to stay and be a chorus to bring new business in is one that could ultimately bring people to the state and expand the tax base.

Lamont has the support of labor. He has to leverage that support not only for political gain, but as a way to get them to the negotiating table for what will be decidedly uncomfortable discussions.

Lamont may not be the perfect candidate, but he is pragmatic. He recognizes the reality that no one is going to turn Connecticut around immediately, but that the course can be set.

Lamont listens. Many of Malloy’s setbacks were due to hubris. Listening was not among the governor’s strong points. We believe Ned Lamont has the qualities — temperament and stature in the business community among them — to move Connecticut toward a more certain future.