In case you didn’t know, there’s an election on the horizon.
But of course you know. Even the most politically-detached among us are probably painfully aware that the nation will choose its President for the next four years — either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden. It’s a race that has already sucked up all the political oxygen in the room and promises to get even more intense over the next month and a half, especially now with the prospect of a Supreme Court nomination fight happening in lead-up to Election Day.
But don’t make the mistake of forgetting about races that are occurring much closer to home. When voters turn out on Nov. 3 this year, they won’t just be deciding who stays in or heads to Washington, D.C., come early 2021. They’ll also be deciding who occupies the seats of political power in Hartford.
Undoubtedly, the election of the President of the United States is of great importance for both the short- and long-term health of the nation, but Connecticut residents should be just as concerned about the overall health of the state. Representatives in Hartford will have a number of pressing issues with which to deal when 2021 arrives.
They’ll likely still have a public health crisis on their hands and a state that is continuing its slow “reopening.” The question of how much longer the state operates primarily under the emergency powers awarded Gov. Ned Lamont will also be debated. At what point will the legislature begin to claw back those powers and retake some policy control?
Then there will be a struggling economy with which they will have to contend. Where will Connecticut’s finances be in 2021? How many unemployed will be on the books? How many small businesses, some of which still remain closed, will be in operation and what will the state do to help them recover?
Connecticut will have to decide how to address its electrical needs and what should be done to shore up the state’s grid while possibly demanding changes of Connecticut’s biggest utility company, Eversource. It will also have to deal, again, with its transportation infrastructure issues and decide whether the installation of tolls is the right way to go.
Just last week, Lamont announced that the state is expecting a $2.1 billion deficit for the 2021 fiscal year. The Governor also admitted that the state has little sense of what revenues will be seen in the coming months, based on the uncertainty that remains when it comes to the pandemic.
Will a state that already has a reputation for over-taxation — according to a 2019 report from the Tax Foundation, Connecticut ranked behind only New York for the highest combined sales and income tax rates in the country — look to raise taxes even more to make up for shortfalls? Will cuts be made to programs and services, and, if so, which ones will be on the chopping block?
So, over the next four-plus weeks, don’t just zero in on the craziness of the Presidential campaign. Pay attention to what’s happening right here at home. Connecticut’s future depends on it.