CROMWELL—They’re the heads of the Democratic and Republican Parties in the state and it’s their job as party bosses to be partisan, but it doesn’t mean they don’t agree on some things.
At the annual meeting of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Democratic State Central Committee Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo and Republican State Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. told a group of municipal officials they agree that parts of the state’s public campaign finance law should be modified.
Specifically, the amount of money it allows people to donate to the state party. Currently donors can give $5,000, under a bill awaiting Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s signature the amount would be increased to $10,000. That money generally goes to help support candidates for the General Assembly.
“There are a lot of campaign finance reforms put in place over the last several years that in some cases were overreaching,” Labriola said. “I believe Nancy and myself would support reforms in that area.”
DiNardo agreed. She said the former Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy and her testified last year together in favor of making changes to the law.
But that’s where their agreement ended.
“What we do not agree on is the tax, spend, and borrow approach by Gov. Malloy,” Labriola said.
“Gov. Malloy is where he is today because of the deficit that was put in by Gov. Rell,” DiNardo responded.
Labriola pointed out that it’s the Democrats who have “controlled the purse strings to the state of Connecticut for two generations.” For at least two years under the control of former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell Democrats held a veto-proof majority in both chambers.
“So I don’t feel that Gov. Malloy inherited a deficit. I would say the deficit and the economic conditions in Connecticut are owned by the Democratic Party,” Labriola said.
DiNardo reminded the group that Rell proposed a budget and closed a budget gap much smaller than the actual size of the deficit. DiNardo was referring to the budget debate in 2009 which started with Rell closing a $6 billion budget deficit without tax increases when the real number was $8 billion.
DiNardo and Labriola went back and forth about national politics too.
DiNardo told municipal leaders it’s their job to end polarization that’s going on in politics.
“Polarization is the enemy of the practical,” she said.
That was before she launched into an approximately eight minute speech about why they should re-elect Democratic President Barack Obama and outlined what was wrong with Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal and how it would hurt municipalities.
When it was Labriola’s turn he turned to DiNardo and thanked her for the Democratic National Committee talking points before admitting he didn’t have a lot of prepared remarks.
“I support fiscal responsibility and fiscal restraints for municipalities,” Labriola said. “And I oppose unfunded mandates. Are there any questions?”
The crowd of local elected officials laughed and applauded.
Responding to a question about the impact of the Wisconsin recall election, Labriola said the biggest thing at stake in the 2012 election is the “cost of government and the size of government.”
“The results in the state of Wisconsin two nights ago, and I believe there were two very large referendums in California where voters by an overwhelming majority voted to restrain government pensions,” Labriola said. “The reforms that were enacted bravely by Gov. Walker couldn’t happen fast enough in the state of Connecticut.”
Labriola opined the reforms in Wisconsin will sweep around the nation.
DiNardo disagreed. She said money and a weak Democratic candidate was the reason for Gov. Walker’s victory in Wisconsin.