Connecticut has many challenges and the General Assembly has a short session this year to try and tackle its most pressing matters. The huge state budget deficit, infrastructure concerns and pension liabilities are among some of the most daunting problems facing lawmakers.
Even so, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a Democrat, told The Bristol Press he has a list of priorities he wants to see the legislature tackle.
While Connecticut residents believe taxes are too high already, Aresimowicz said lame-duck Gov. Dannel Malloy’s suggestion that the state should hike gas and cigarette taxes may be a step in the right direction. What’s more, the speaker noted that the state’s financial problems could even lead to cuts to some social service programs.
Among other topics on the speaker’s agenda are the possibility of highway tolls and doing away with the car tax.
But, with all the struggles Connecticut is facing, perhaps one issue that isn’t being discussed but ought to be considered is moving the state from a part-time legislature to a full-time governing body.
Only 10 states have full time legislatures. Of those, only one - Massachusetts - is in New England. The Bay State, once known as “Taxachusetts” has seen a stunning economic turnaround in recent years, although not all of Massachusetts gains can be linked to having full time lawmakers.
However, with the myriad of crippling problems Connecticut is facing, perhaps it’s time to at least extend the General Assembly session so that pressing issues can be addressed head on and solutions put in place.
To expect lawmakers to cram all its legislative business into three short months seems an impossible task. Yet, Aresimowicz said he is committed to moving the General Assembly forward in an effort to achieve as much as possible.
While we commend the speaker’s optimism, we recognize the hurdles that indecision, red tape and partisanship could present and fear that in the end, well-intentioned legislators will make little progress.
Taxpayers and municipalities need action and answers.
Unfortunately, Connecticut’s full-time problems can’t be solved by a part-time General Assembly.