Opinion: CT’s Democrats are good leaders for our state

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks in Stamford last month.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks in Stamford last month.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

Connecticut is emerging from the biggest and most disruptive crisis of our lifetimes. But unlike other states, we are protecting the public with ever-increasing vaccination rates, improving our fiscal health dramatically, and seeing people and businesses move into our state.

These are facts, despite every Republican claim to the contrary.

There’s a reason Connecticut is doing so well: over many years, Democratic governors, majorities in the General Assembly, our federal delegation and municipal leaders across the state have made the tough decisions to get us back on track and growing. Most recently, Gov. Ned Lamont’s remarkable leadership has made Connecticut the envy of other states.

From 1994 to 2010, under Republican governors, Connecticut was saddled with skyrocketing debt and no savings. Since then, Democrats made tough decisions to shore up collapsing revenues and protect the most vulnerable in the grip of a brutal recession.

Republican pessimism predicted the end of Connecticut as we know it — they seem to like that theme — with residents moving away in droves. But the opposite occurred. Today, the state is posting record surpluses and families are moving into the state in record numbers. From New York alone: 27,000 new residents, who are paying taxes and contributing to the economy.

When Gov. Lamont took office in 2019, he defended the rainy day fund from Republican overreach and succeeded in limiting borrowing. As a result, Connecticut can rely on a record-breaking $3.1 billion rainy day fund and projected budget surpluses for years to come. Our bonds were upgraded for the first time in decades, and we’ve made historic payments of $1.7 billion to the pension funds Republican governors ignored.

Even the GOP knows Gov. Lamont has been a good steward of our state finances. The 2021-22 state budget was supported by 22 Republican members of state House and nine of the 12 Republican members of the state Senate.

And so the political attacks are disheartening, at best. While party politics have always been robust in our state, the ugliness inspired by the former president now dominate the political climate.

Throughout the pandemic, the Republican answer to every prudent public health measure has been “no.” While offering no solutions, they have called the governor names, encouraged the repeal of vaccine and mask requirements, and labeled those who disrupt local school board meetings “heroes.” Democrats believe the real heroes are those who have kept our state and our schools safe, not those flouting common-sense policies during a deadly pandemic.

Just as we approached the COVID crisis with a focus on data and proven interventions that work, Democrats will address the recent rise in car thefts and gun violence without resorting to the hyperbole and scare tactics we see from Connecticut Republicans. Every act of thievery and violence is wrong and deserves the full response of the law. We applaud Connecticut’s law enforcement officials for their response to this national trend.

Scaring people isn’t a solution. We know that a well-rounded community response includes both police work and prevention programs, many of which were limited or shut down due to the pandemic. Instead of vowing to return to mass incarceration policies that we know fail to stop crime, we can both support police and support programs that we know deter crime.

Congressional Democrats and President Biden are delivering for Connecticut, too. The child tax credit has put thousands of dollars in the pockets of middle-class and working families, and the infrastructure plan will improve so many aspects of life in our state. Connecticut is a great place to live and raise a family. Democrats are working every day to make it better, and we are succeeding.

Nancy DiNardo is chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Connecticut.