Three or potentially four (if the ACA is struck down) colliding challenges will make the next legislative session an extraordinarily difficult one. They are as follows:
- the weakness of Connecticut’s pre-COVID structural finances – we have overtaxed, overspent and overborrowed, leaving our state in a very difficult position;
- the horrible impact that COVID-19 has had upon our state’s economy leading to significant unemployment and business closure and interruption;
- the severe lack of Connecticut’s competiveness with other states – the stark reality is that Connecticut’s attempt to recover economically will not be in a vacuum – we will need to compete with other states and Connecticut performed terribly in the post Great Recession recovery (2009 to 2019); and
- the health care challenges that our state will face if the Affordable Care Act is struck down and a replacement plan isn’t passed that reasonably preserves Medicaid eligibility levels, pre-existing conditions protection, up to age 26 health insurance protection, and functioning health exchanges and marketplaces.
In order to seriously face these challenges, the Connecticut legislature will need to be aggressive and bold. It must not do what it has done for the four decades under one party control – mainly presiding over Connecticut’s economic deterioration. Our state senators and representatives must do the following:
- Understand that this a battle with other states that can be won or lost;
- Refrain from tax increases as they make our state less competitive and drive out job creators;
- Make sweeping reforms and eliminate regulations that hamper business growth and much needed investment in our cities and towns;
- Aggressively reduce spending in all non-essential areas without regard to special interests;
- Collaborate with the state’s workforce and its representation to identify and eliminate waste and reduce costs;
- Expand the use of nonprofit organizations to deliver state services, implementing broad based technology solutions, cutting duplicative state functions, eliminating overtime and ending the running up of pension calculations;
- Stop passing the buck to local municipalities further burdening the residents of Connecticut who are already paying too much in property taxes;
- Select an agreed upon economic growth target and take all the necessary steps to achieve this target; and
- Form a bipartisan health taskforce to deal with the uninsured patient population that Connecticut’s hospitals and physicians will likely encounter if the Affordable Care Act is struck down without an appropriate replacement.
We must all remember that these are unprecedented times and they require unprecedented action to achieve success and prosperity. The status quo will not work and many of those residents who can leave Connecticut will do so if we don’t change our ways. It is not too late if we make the right choices.