Selecting a governor is quite a serious decision. It can mean the difference between fiscal restraint and runaway spending, or education reform and preserving the status quo. The state’s highest office requires a leader who has the vision, experience and determination to get the job done. Connecticut needs a leader with a proven track record of results to help bring this state to its full potential. That leader is Gov. John G. Rowland. Over the past eight years, Rowland has turned the state of Connecticut around. He has restored discipline and restraint to state spending, improved education, and helped bring over 100,000 jobs to the state. This has resulted in the largest expansion of Connecticut’s economy since World War II.
With a legislature controlled by Democrats, Connecticut needs a leader who will hold the line on spending and continue to encourage business growth. A return to one-party government would be disastrous for Connecticut because nothing would temper the Democrats’ desire for runaway spending, which would lead to increased taxes. A centerpiece of Curry’s campaign is to increase spending. But with the current fiscal quagmire in which the Legislature is now embroiled, where will the extra funding come from? Why, an increase in taxes, of course. As the New Haven Register pointed out in their endorsement of Rowland’s re-election, “The priority this year is the difficult and painful task of righting the state’s finances.” Obviously, only the candidate who understands fiscal restraint can accomplish this task, and that candidate is Rowland. Rowland has made it a priority to work with Democrats as well as Republicans on a state budget, and has delivered budget surpluses of over $1.2 billion over the past six years.
To improve the quality of life for all Connecticut residents, Rowland has made historic investments in education all the way from preschool to college. K-12 schools are being restored and rebuilt with nearly $3 billion in school construction spending for nearly 90 new school facilities in over 60 cities, and all major cities, including New Haven. Preschool programs have been expanded so that thousands of underprivileged children in the state’s poorest areas can begin their education before kindergarten. And over $157 million was spent in 2001 alone to improve urban education and increase opportunity. Although there is more to be done, Curry believes we can alleviate the problem by simply throwing money at it. He has no measures for increased accountability in the school systems. He simply does not have the experience Rowland has that will be necessary as Connecticut continues to make improvements in its education system.
When it comes to public safety, only one candidate has the experience of making Connecticut safer and more secure. With a focus on better troopers, increased technology, and a command focus on homeland security, Rowland has increased public safety funding by over 80 percent since he came into office in 1995. By increasing the number of state troopers, forcing criminals to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, expanding community policing, and outfitting state and local law enforcement agencies with better technology, our streets have become safer and overall crime levels have significantly dropped by more than 25 percent. Violent crime has decreased 15 percent, murder has dropped 50 percent, and property-related crime is down 26 percent. Even the Connecticut State Police Union, which has sat out the past two gubernatorial elections, endorsed the re-election of Rowland. Since Sept. 11, 2001, with the increased focus on domestic security, Gov. Rowland instituted a new Office of Homeland Security to oversee the state’s readiness for any type of security threat. Protecting the citizenry is the number-one priority of the government, and it has been priority number one for Gov. Rowland since he was sworn in as governor in 1995. Curry makes no mention of public safety issues on his Web site. How high of a priority is it for him?
The upcoming years have a bleak outlook. With a slowly growing national economy, and impending war with Iraq, there is a strong possibility Connecticut may see hard times in the near future. It is important we have Rowland in the governor’s office again because he has the experience necessary to guide this state through uncertain times. Over the past eight years, Rowland has turned this state around, and he is the only candidate who can preserve this progress and meet the new challenges that lie ahead. With Rowland in the governor’s office, Connecticut will continue its prosperity for years to come.
Philip Shaw is a junior in Ezra Stiles College.