EDITORIAL: GOP backs Lamont on call for ‘debt diet’

EDITORIAL: GOP backs Lamont on call for ‘debt diet’

Given recent history, the idea of Connecticut Democrats and Republicans working together for the common good may sound like a fantasy of how things could be in the sweet by-and-by. But when it comes to curbing excessive state borrowing, at least one prominent Republican, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, is backing Gov. Ned Lamont, whose fellow Democrats in the General Assembly have been giving him some grief.

Lamont insists on prioritizing spending for transportation infrastructure, which he believes will show positive returns, while many lawmakers continue to push for bring-home-the-bacon local priorities.

But Lamont says other projects will have to wait until lawmakers settle on at least a short-term plan to upgrade the state’s aging infrastructure.

“Just as many Connecticut families do, the state must also live within its means,” Ryan Drajewicz, the governor ’s chief of staff, told The Connecticut Mirror recently. “The ‘Must-dos’ take precedence over the ‘Nice-to-haves.’”

And, for Lamont, the first ‘Must-do’ is modernizing and upgrading the state’s transportation system.

Although Fasano, R-North Haven, has often been critical of Lamont, he says Senate Republicans would stand with the governor in upholding a veto of any bond package they deem wasteful or ill-focused.

“Connecticut is one of the nation’s leaders in per-capita state debt, in part because the state puts too much on its credit card ...” Drajewicz said. Therefore, as part of his “debt diet,” Lamont wants to cut down on bonding other than for transportation, school construction, and little else.

Since highway tolling — which the administration says could raise about $800 million annually by 2024 or 2025 — failed to pass this year, and since the state is still not on an even keel financially, the governor’s “debt diet” is a sensible approach.

And hard choices will have to be made between the ‘Must-dos’ and the ‘Nice-to-haves.’”