Republican Senate Minority Leader John McKinney and House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero offered a message of unity Tuesday to the first Democratic governor elected in 24 years.
Governor-elect Dan Malloy’s impromptu visit to a Republican caucus Monday was something Republicans hoped was more than symbolic.
Unannounced Monday, Malloy and Lt. Governor-elect Nancy Wyman decided to stop by the Republican caucus room and say hello.
“It was symbolic and appreciated,” Cafero said Tuesday. “It’s a show of their willingness to work together.”
He said Malloy’s unplanned visit proved a “classy move.”
“This bodes well for the future,” Cafero said. “We have to work together. We have to run this place.”
McKinney maintained the idea of a unified state legislature as well.
“A good idea is a good idea,” he said. “You’ve heard me say that before, no matter where it comes from.”
“Malloy has said that everyone has a seat at the table,” Cafero said Tuesday.
Cafero and McKinney said Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing as the dynamic of the legislature shifts from a Democratic super-majority to a simple Democratic majority. The fiscal health of the state and the $3.3 billion dollar budget deficit tops the list of concerns for both parties, partisan differences aside.
Malloy said he intends to enact Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in order to create more budget transparency.
“We support him in that effort,” Cafero said. “They are universally known and something that the public can count on.”
Enacting GAAP may reveal an even worse budget deficit, however. House and Senate Republicans say they feel ready to tackle the problem with Democrats as long as Malloy takes a strong and fiscally moderate approach.
“We make our problem out to be less than it really is,” McKinney said. “I think we have a working majority who believes in the same thing.”
Republicans said Malloy must sign all of the GAAP principles into effect in order to gain Republican support and for GAAP to work.
“I don’t want to see GAAP ‘light,’” Cafero said.
“You either adopt GAAP principles or you don’t,” McKinney said. “You either tell the truth or you don’t.”
As the dynamic in the state legislature shifts with Republicans holding 15 more seats than last year, Republican leaders said they are not the only ones who can expect changes.
“We’re all on whole new ground here,” Cafero said. “I’m in my tenth term and I’ve never served under a Democratic governor. It’s a whole new dynamic and there are a lot of adjustments that need to be made.”
Cafero said that even Democrats face a whole new dynamic with their top office held by Malloy.
“They used to be the kings of the House and Senate, respectively. That’s not longer the case,” he said.
Laughter broke out in the room as Cafero added, “I don’t think I’d want that problem – but I guess I wish I did.”
House and Senate Republicans want Malloy and the Democratic majority to know they will not be ignored, however.
“He could choose to ignore the minority party but if he does so, it comes at his own political peril,” Cafero said.