Monday, July 18, 2011

Chris Donovan-- Bringing Effective Blue State Leadership To DC


The Bad Reps

The first time I ever spoke with Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan on the phone, I kept thinking, "How did someone this young ever get into so powerful a position?" I never asked his age, and I was shocked to read in his bio more recently that he's the father of two college-age kids. I was thrown for a loop because we had spent time talking about the relative merits of Iggy Pop and Wreckless Eric songs which his band, the Bad Reps, performs.

Cultural touchstones aside, Chris is the kind of leader progressives long for. He's not just good on the issues, he understands the mechanisms of power that create public policy. He's not the kind of progressive that sits around being right and not getting anything done. That's why he holds the top position in the Connecticut legislature, and that's why the Connecticut legislature has been taking such cutting-edge positions on issue after issue at a time when reactionaries like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Tom Corbett, Paul LePage, Bob McDonnell, etc. are dragging their states backwards.

Chris has been representing Meriden in the House for 18 years. His causes have been health care, job growth, a clean environment, women’s issues and government reform. His proudest achievements have been around battles for issues that touch people in their daily lives: day care, family leave, pay equity, domestic violence...

He has decided to run for the U.S. House seat in the western and central part of the state (CT-5) being given up by Senate-bound Chris Murphy. As far as I can tell, he's favored to win, although a wealthy lobbyist with powerful connections in the DCCC and the Beltway Establishment is running his son, Dan Roberti.

I asked Chris what issue is foremost in the minds of Connecticut voters and he didn't hesitate for a second. "Jobs," he told me flatly. He agreed to write up a few ideas he's been talking with his constituents about in that regard. This is his first guest post for us. (If you'd like to help his campaign, you can do it here through ActBlue.) -- Howie

"It's long past time to start rebuilding America"
Guest post by Chris Donovan,
Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives

If you dig deep in the most recent weak unemployment numbers, you’ll notice a disturbing trend. The drag on job recovery is not from lack of growth in private sector jobs but the deliberate destruction of public, government jobs. Private business added 57,000 jobs in June, while the public sector lost 39,000 jobs (bringing state and local public-sector employment to their lowest point in five years). The Congressional Republicans' goal to shrink government is working, and the result is higher unemployment and a stagnant economy. More Americans are losing their jobs due to government cutbacks, with teachers, nurses, police and firefighters joining the unemployment lines. D.C. Republicans can add stifling middle class job growth to their apparent ongoing goal to stunt our economic recovery.

Jobs in the private sector are picking up, but public-sector jobs are disappearing. This is out of line with the recoveries of the early 1990s-- in the last two economic recoveries, public-sector job growth averaged 1.7%. Since the recovery started, we have lost 430,000 public-sector jobs. If public sector job growth matched the historic average of growth during recovery, 800,000 more people would have jobs today, and our unemployment rate would drop a full half point from 9.2% to 8.7%.

But Washington Republicans are championing the loss of much-needed public-sector jobs-- a mad rush to cut the taxes of the Wall Street CEOs who put us in this mess and half-century-long ideological wars trumping the suffering of actual people. And their argument, "we can't afford it," is profoundly regressive. American families need jobs now and they will support ending tax-loopholes for the corporate fat-cats and Wall Street CEOs who created this economic morass in order to create them. We can't afford not to grow jobs by repairing our crumbling highway and bridge infrastructure. We can't afford not to grow jobs by rebuilding our aging water and sewage infrastructure. We can't afford not to grow jobs by supporting education from pre-school through college. We can't afford not to grow jobs by investing in green jobs and alternative energy sources provided by companies like PV Squared in New Britain and Litchfield Hills Solar in West Cornwall. And we certainly can't afford not to grow jobs by investing in the technology and modes of transportation of the future, projects like the electrification of the Danbury and Waterbury commuter rail lines, connecting Boston and New York through projects like the Tri-City High Speed Rail and commuter rail corridor that will pass through my hometown of Meriden, and potentially connecting Waterbury to Hartford via rail along the I-84 corridor. These projects aren't just a price tag, they are job engines and are desperately needed improvements that will relieve congestion on Connecticut's crowded highways, improve safety and public health, and create new job hubs in Connecticut's 5th Congressional district.

The American middle class, and projects like the Hoover Dam and the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system, didn't just appear. They were built, brick by brick and person by person, by soldiers returning home with a promise of new opportunities for education and health care, by immigrants seeking a new life in a new world, and by businesses, small and large, that sought American workers, required a well-educated workforce, and relied on American infrastructure. And they were built by the toil of our parents and grandparents with the collective strength forged by the unions that represented them. It's long past time to start rebuilding America, and the economic security of American families through good jobs with strong benefits, brick by brick, person by person.

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At 10:44 AM, Blogger Aldon Hynes said...

Thanks for highlighting Chris. My wife and I came to be good friends with him during Gov Dean's presidential campaign, and even closer friends during Ned Lamont's U.S. Senate campaign. Please, do what you can help elect a solid progressive.

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Bet Not said...

All right! Iggy rules, I'd vote for you!


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