With the state facing a six billion dollar deficit over the next two years, how to balance the budget will be the chief concern during the legislative session that begins next month. A former Connecticut governor who faced a similar challenge says the current leadership in Hartford has not yet proven it is up to the task.
The conditions Lowell Weicker faced when he became governor in 1991 sound eerily familiar. There was a depressed national economy, high unemployment in Connecticut, and a nearly 1 billion dollar hole in the state budget to fill.
In response, Weicker called for the creation of a state income tax, and after months of battling with the General Assembly, the new revenue stream became law.
On WNPR's Where We Live, Weicker said it was a necessary decision that didn't make him popular.
"You can never call an additional tax something that you're going to cheer about or you're going to praise the individuals who went ahead and passed it. But on the other hand, our job was to govern the state in a way that ended up with a state in the black instead of a state in the red. I think everyone needs to look at the result rather than the decision. The decision was absolutely correct and proved to be correct."
Weicker, an Independent, did not run for reelection, and he is no fan of the political leaders who followed him. He says statewide needs like education and health care have gone unaddressed, while local pet projects have garnered political support and funding.
"This is both a Democratic and Republican problem in the capitol. It doesn't sit in one party's hands or the other. i just think they've had a happy old time and nobody wants to face up to the reality surrounding it."
Weicker now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is organizing a collection of his public papers at the University of Virginia.