Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has been taking it on the chin for pushing a $10 million analysis of electronic tolling on state highways.
The governor, who is not seeking re-election, is an easy target. I haven’t checked the standings lately, but I’m confident Malloy remains among the least popular, if he is not indeed the least popular, governor in the nation. Connecticut still leads the way in something.
But the assessment that Malloy was operating improperly somehow because his term is about to end is outright baloney. Obviously you have the right to disagree with his choices – and plenty of people do – but the governor is doing his job, which he is obligated to do and which residents have a right to expect, until his term expires.
His can be a “my way or the highway” approach: “I worry that some in modern-day Connecticut are subscribing to their own know-nothing philosophy,” he said recently. “They’re choosing to reject new information, to decide proactively to know less, to limit the scope of their options before even fully understanding what those options truly are.”
He has less than six months to go. Does that mean he shouldn’t do anything in his time left? Does that mean he was elected to serve 3½ years? Some would have you think so.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and Republican Rep. Chris Davis told the governor that if the commission approved the funding, which is what has now happened, they’d collect enough signatures to petition the General Assembly into a special session. Maybe that should now take place.
Senate Republican leader Len Fasano said it was “an irresponsible and egotistical waste of money as he heads out of office. Governor Malloy needs to get on his horse, ride into the sunset and leave taxpayers alone.” Those are good fightin’ words; Maybe Fasano should run for governor.
But even though those are good fightin’ words they reflect a slippery logic. What Malloy needs to do is serve out the term he was elected to serve. To expect otherwise is to follow the twisted approach of the GOP’s Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader who spiked President Barack Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court with the vapid argument that voters needed to be given the chance to decide at the next election. You can carry this damaging reasoning on indefinitely. How much time should an elected official have to serve out a term? The only answer can be: all of it.
The fuss over Malloy plunging ahead with a study on tolls, and the scapegoating of the governor over it, slides by what is not an insignificant detail, which is the General Assembly’s inability to take action during the recent legislative session. Nobody wants to take an unpopular position while they’re trying to get re-elected, but this was a failure, just like not coming up with a budget on time was a failure.
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, a member of the State Bond Commission, did not support the funding, saying the study should not be approved without a legislative directive. But what can be done when there’s a legislative body that can’t come up with one?
Malloy was getting at this: “During this past legislative session, we heard time and again from legislators that they wished for more information regarding electronic tolling, including specific recommendations with respect to its possible implementation.”
So, at least he’s not kicking the can down the road. He’s giving them what they wanted. Except they don’t want it.
Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.