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If you only watched cable TV or the nightly news, you might get the impression that Scott Walker (WI-R) and Chris Christie (NJ-R) are the only governors in the country. Their hyper-confrontational tactics make them media darlings (Tonite on the news: yelling at teachers, now with video), but there are other governors in the country tackling budget deficits without scapegoating public service or the unions that support service employees like bus drivers and teachers.

Let's take some other examples ...  EJ Dionne has a list of Governors who are doing the responsible adult thing and adding revenue enhancement to spending cuts as a way out of the mess they are in due to the recession (and their predecessors):

The brave ones are governors such as Jerry Brown in California, Dan Malloy in Connecticut, Pat Quinn in Illinois, Mark Dayton in Minnesota and Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii. They are declaring that you have to cut programs, even when your own side likes them, and raise taxes, which nobody likes much at all. Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee has warned of possible tax increases too.

Here's a closer look at the less well-known (than CA's Brown) Dannel Malloy, for example:

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget is being picked apart, in hearing rooms at the state Capitol, on talk radio and the web, and in town hall meetings across Connecticut. But the real debate is about the essence of the man, not the details of his budget.

Is the first Democratic governor in 20 years really intent on demanding $1 billion in labor savings -- a 20-percent giveback? His tax package is a political disaster, seemingly calculated to mobilize as many opponents as possible, raising income and sales taxes and whacking a popular property tax credit.

Conservatives are aghast at his endorsement of an earned income tax credit, money that would go to the working poor. Liberals are furious he won't hit the rich harder, digging dollars from the only demographic that gained in the past decade.

He can't be serious, can he?


He inherited a $3.2 billion deficit, a big hole in a $19 billion budget, one of the worst faced by any governor. His Republican opponent, Tom Foley, had insisted it could be erased without new taxes. Malloy's proposed solution: $1.5 billion in tax increases and $1.8 billion in spending cuts, including $1 billion in labor savings.

Malloy's a moderate, not a progressive, but he's looking at the budget as a problem to fix, not (see Walker - WI) an ideological crusade to push. And as you can see from the headlines, he's not exactly making everyone delighted. There's plenty of pain to spread. But, and this is the point, even the critics recognize this as a credible response that includes both revenue and spending to reach balance. The willingness to at least look at revenue separates the Democrats from the Republicans, and his current town meeting tour of the state shows at least a willingness to listen.

Here are some of the statewide responses:

(Meriden) Record-Journal:

Tough but balanced
It may not be perfect and there's still plenty of work to do, but the accomplishments in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's first proposed budget shouldn't be lost on anyone - nor should the leadership he displayed in trying to get Connecticut back on the road to fiscal health.

CT Post:  

An adult in the governor's mansion -- what a novel concept.

Connecticut's Dannel Malloy has emerged as a voice of reason in the national debate over budgets and spending. One side is saying, in effect, "It's all public workers' fault." The other side, Malloy's, says, "No, it's not."

Malloy is not letting public employees off the hook. His budget calls for, as he says, "shared sacrifice," including $2 billion in givebacks from state workers. Without those concessions, he says, the only choice is mass layoffs. We take him at his word.

And he is proving himself willing to take an unpopular stand -- no one makes friends by proposing to raise taxes.

Norwich Bulletin:
It’s not a Traveling Medicine Show where sugar water is being passed off as the magic elixir. It’s a frank, no sugarcoated discussion about the reality of the state’s situation.

And it’s a hard sell.

Malloy is not laboring under the misguided belief that it’s going to be easy convincing people they have to swallow the bad-tasting medicine in order to get better. But that’s exactly his message — with a bit more emphasis on the “getting better” part.

Rep. Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, minority leader of the state House, in an otherwise critical piece.

The governor does deserve credit for proposing an honest budget that does not use gimmicks or borrow to pay operating expenses. He asked for serious concessions from the state employees. He has also embraced the idea of consolidation by proposing to fold 81 state boards and commissions into 57.
Predictably, Cafero's complaint is that Malloy dared to raise taxes, as if that's not even allowed to be thought of. Taxes aren't going to be popular (they never are), but like Jerry Brown and unlike Republican Governors like Christie, the balance in the balanced budget comes from both revenue enhancement and spending cuts. A recent free market Yankee Institute (poll by Rasmussen) highlights people's dislike of taxes, but
...despite all the disapproval of Malloy's plans, 50 percent told the Yankee Institute's pollster that they approve of the way he's doing things so far.

As EJ Dionne notes in his own piece on responsible Dem Governors:
And those governors doing the hard work trying to balance cutbacks and tax increases get ignored, because there's nothing sexy about being responsible.

Malloy's taking the less popular but balanced approach to a balanced budget. He's talking to unions in private, not via the nightly news (concessions are coming, collective bargaining will not be touched, and as per the current plan, pensions will be funded.) What a novel concept. Anyone who thinks it's easy to get out of a budget hole ought to talk to—um—an adult. And if you do, you'll find it can be done without eliminating collective bargaining or turning the state against you. Scott Walker, take note.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And, the unions saved CT from a Walker-style (14+ / 0-)

    budget battle which I believe would have been inevitable w Foley.

    That shouldn't be lost on folks...the unions really helped get Malloy elected.

    "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

    by grannyhelen on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:03:43 AM PST

  •  Good. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Mike, rontun, supercereal

    Maybe a few years down the road the more ideological states (I could mention Texas) will take note of best practices in the light of their own massive fail.

    Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

    by Dauphin on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:04:36 AM PST

  •  BOR-RING!!! (9+ / 0-)

    OF COURSE the media isn't covering the right way to do it.

    Competence is boring, conflict and disaster is good TV and easy to cover.  

    How many cable tv news stories are there about nice weather?

    If you want a link, I'll look for a link. If you really want it. Just ask.

    by Inland on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:05:27 AM PST

  •  Republican leaderships worst nightmare (7+ / 0-)

    Republican leaderships worst nightmare are educated voters.

  •  The more I watch the debacle in WI (10+ / 0-)

    the more I think Walker's owners totally miscalculated the situtation. I believe their plan all along was to make the outlandish proposal, watch a little bit of protest, the "concede" to the union demands while letting the theft of the utility servicing contract go unnoticed.

    But a funny thing happened, the union workers didn't just make a little noise, they made NOISE and kept the pressure on. And it's fracked up their little plan. Now Scotty "Hosni" Walker is up to his neck in problems and, not being an adult, has no clue how to deal with it.

    There's always the chance something good will come out of expressing oneself honestly

    by ontheleftcoast on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:07:13 AM PST

  •  He's OK, but KILLING the Public Option, Sustinet (0+ / 0-)
    •  A little more accurate if you say... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      filby, james321

      that Malloy is not allowing Sustinet to exist.  Ct currently does not have a public option, aka Sustinet as the previous governor Jodi Rell Vetoes it.  The Dems did not have the votes to override her veto.  

      Malloy is indicating he will block it as his predecessor did.  So he's not killing it.  He's just not letting it get passed.  

      Unfortunately Malloy is NOT a progressive and on this it seems he'll be caving into huge state special interests when he could do wonders to the budget by allowing a public option.  It would dramatically reduce healthcare costs in the state which has very high healthcare costs.

      We just have to hit him on his tour and make him change his mind.  Unlike the GOoPer govs he's actually listening to the people for input.

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 08:26:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, the blow back must be HARD and FAST... (0+ / 0-)

        SustiNet is an outstanding idea that will save the state a ton of money -- I personally think it's just nuts to keep all state-sponsored insurance participants in different pools -- allowing individuals to buy-in will save the state tons of money.

        He needs to listen to us not Aetna's Mark "I Drink Fine Wine in a Hot Tub" Bertolini.

  •  be nice (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynChi, Mary Mike, jnhobbs

    if the federal government took that approach. but they cut taxes as a "stimulus," instead.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:10:51 AM PST

  •  He'sa rising star in CT politics (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    filby, msmacgyver

    Overshadowed by his neighbors like Cuomo and Patrick, but he has the potential to be a real star.

  •  THANKS for highlighting a sane governor (4+ / 0-)

    I voted for him, and agree with his policy of spreading the pain over everyone in the state, but with an emphasis on those better able to afford it.

    Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

    by triplepoint on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:19:54 AM PST

    •  Malloy is a good administrator (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      filby, happymisanthropy

      having experience running Stamford he was always the most qualified to be governor.   He is spreading the pain around and at the same time trying to be competitive with other neighboring states.  He's a shrewd guy and very likeable.  

      However, his policy ideas are not always the best for the average person.  He's not a progressive and is more in the DLC mold.  On some things he's good and on others he's awful.  I voted for him but under the Worker's Party and only because the alternative was far, far worse.

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 08:31:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The only reason "there's nothing sexy about being (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Mike, Mr MadAsHell, METAL TREK

    responsible" is because the people telling the stories aren't willing to tell it that way.  I don't know if it's laziness, ideology, ignorance or some combination of the above, but there's no reason that irresponsibility should look hawt.  

    Think of a bedroom scene, complete with a closeup of the underwear on the floor.  If you saw skidmarks, would your opinion of the stud change?  What if there were three socks on the floor instead of two, so you realized there was some, um, exaggeration of assets?  And what's that rash all about?

    Journalists shouldn't be prettying up the image like they're shooting financial porn (ooh - here's the money shot!)  They ought to be doing a documentary, letting us know exactly what our partner in the statehouse is really like.

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:30:34 AM PST

    •  Real, experienced adults can take a (3+ / 0-)

      balanced approach to these budget problems and achieve real solutions - not painless, but real.

      Here in California, in my opinion, Governor Brown has been masterful in how he has played his cards.  Like most everyone, I have issues with some of his specific budget proposals, but stepping back and looking at the bigger picture I'm almost in awe of how he has set the table, framed the issues, and corralled the cats.

      Exactly what I expected when I voted for him.  It's been a long time since California had an adult in charge.

      The most violent element in society is ignorance.

      by Mr MadAsHell on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 09:46:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  2/3 cuts and 1/3 revenue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    well at least it's not 3/3 cuts.

    at this point in history that's a miracle.

    big badda boom : GRB 080913

    by squarewheel on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:44:06 AM PST

  •  I take issue with one thing though (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    milkbone, filby, happymisanthropy

    Malloy does issue totally unnecessary changes which require that new collective bargaining agreements be approved by the legislature. This is totally unnecessary since it's the people in the departments who will have the expertise to hammer out agreements. Politicians are not experts in these matters, and he's essentially installing a programmatic cudgel against the teacher's unions that, to me, reeks of WiskyWalkerism.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:57:50 AM PST

  •  Raise taxes on the rich (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and most of the "problem" is solved.  At least you wouldn't have to make draconian cuts to much needed programs and services.

    But, this is what the Rapeuglycans and Teagaggers want: a cannibalist economy.

    What's the use of electing more Democrats if they're not better Democrats? Elect BETTER Democrats and the MORE will take care of itself.

    by MacJimi on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 08:17:13 AM PST

  •  Truth Be Told... (0+ / 0-)

    ...I bet the tax measures are not really "increases", since part of the budget problem all over the country is a stupendous decline in tax revenues due to George Bush's giga-recession.  So, it's really a tax "replacement", not a tax "increase".  I would even go so far as to wager that even after these tax "increases", tax collections will be below what they were in, for example, 2006.

  •  Real Party Difference (0+ / 0-)

    Democrats are as different from Republicans as black is from white.  As this article points out, Democrats are dedicated to good government.   Republicans are not because they believe the old Reagan BS that, "Government is not the solution, it is the problem."  Anyone who does not vote Democratic deserves to be punished with bad Republican mis-governance.

  •  I live in Illinois and Governor Quinn (0+ / 0-)

    got my vote and gets my support for raising state income taxes.

    Hell I am all for taxing pensions if it needs to be done.

    Illinois is one of few states that doesn't tax part or all of pensions.

    Why are so many Americans so unwilling to pay their fair share?

    If you want roads, bridges, highways, clean, water, libraries, schools to educate your children etc... why wouldn't you pay your fair share ?

    •  Not to mention... (0+ / 0-)

      As a former resident of Illinois:

      Holy cow, those roads are THE worst in the country. You absolutely know the moment you cross the Border either entering or leaving Illinois. Not even to mention the ever present Road Construction everywhere at all times.

      Ok, sorry about that.

      "Just when you think you are in control..." - Ok Go

      by acluka on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 01:28:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Malloy is an interesting guy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    N in Seattle, DemFromCT

    The diarist's analysis is spot-on. I can't think of anything to add, so I'll just say "well done."

    E Pluribus Unum: Out of many, one.

    by Ian Reifowitz on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 10:16:55 AM PST

  •  A passing mention (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to IL Pat Quinn.  He deserves credit.  He's doing the right things for IL.  And the UAW just signed an agreement with Caterpiller to keep jobs in IL.

    It's not the size of government.  It's whether it's effective.

    Right now, in IL, it's looking like we've got effective, which is a nice change from the previous two administrations of corruption.

    "There are always 10% screaming about something"--Hollydem's Dad.

    by pvlb on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 11:05:01 AM PST

  •  Comparrison (0+ / 0-)

    Right now, I feel like the GOP are a party of Drunk Frat Boys thinking that the night will never end, while the Democrats are the ones cleaning up the party, and dragging the hungover Frat Boys out of bed to help clean, only to find that they will say anything, do anything to get drunk again despite having no more money.

    "Just when you think you are in control..." - Ok Go

    by acluka on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 01:36:42 PM PST

  •  and a thank you to EJ Dionne (0+ / 0-)

    for a mention tonite on the ED show (this post was cited).

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 08:09:47 PM PST

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