On Wednesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy met with legislative leaders to discuss the latest state budget crisis. Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, has projected a $202.8 million deficit for the current fiscal year. But, when lawmakers tried to reduce spending, they failed to meet the needs of our neediest citizens, as was evident by the reaction to cuts that help cover the cost of Medicare-related expenses for thousands of senior citizens and people with disabilities. (Legislative leaders have delayed implementation of that change and are looking for a fix.)
Meanwhile, there are lots of reasons for the shortfall - and few solutions. But one thing is clear: we can’t just go on doing what we have been doing for the last few decades. We are in desperate need of new ways of thinking about government spending and we need new voices - voices like Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and University system.
He will present a plan to the Board of Regents that would consolidate administration of the state’s 12 community colleges for a savings of $28 million. His idea would not result in the loss of faculty positions or any positions that deal directly with students, though, sadly, 200 other jobs would be eliminated.
He has met with considerable opposition to his plan and we believe it’s for one simple reason: opposition to change.
Connecticut is not called the Land of Steady Habits for nothing. But overspending is one habit we have to break.
Even as we strive to meet the needs of our citizens, we must be open to new ideas that help us live within our means.