Opinion by Rep. Jason Perillo
When Governor Malloy addressed the opening session of the Connecticut General Assembly, he promised a number of new initiatives which would fundamentally change the way Connecticut does business. Even the most casual observer would agree that if there was something Connecticut desperately needed on a number of policy fronts, it was a radical change in direction.
As the session wore on we discovered that there was little bold or radical in what the new governor proposed. Governor Malloy quickly proposed $1.8 billion in new taxes, increased state spending by nearly $1 billion, and concluded a labor negotiation with state employees that gave them a guarantee of no layoffs and a 9.3% pay raise over five years. This isn’t radical change – it is a natural extension of the bad public policy that has been advanced by the Democratic majority in the legislature for the past twenty years. And helped get us where we are in this budget crisis.
But there is one significant break with the past that Governor Malloy has made concerning public safety. And it is somewhat shocking.
The Governor mentioned in his remarks to the legislature his intent to release non-violent offenders from prison, ostensibly saving taxpayers money without releasing anyone who would put the public at risk.
However, one of his proposals is known as “good time credits” to incarcerated individuals making them eligible for early release from prison. Instead, the Governor and fellow Democrats put forth a bill that allowed every single felon in jail to be eligible for early release – including those convicted of rape, murder, arson, sexual assault of a minor, and other heinous crimes.
After taking some understandable heat for this measure, Democrats tried to make the bill less offensive to Connecticut residents. They failed.
The new legislation that Democrats pushed through the legislature allowed early release for rape, aggravated sexual assault of a minor, assault of a pregnant woman that results in the termination of a pregnancy, first-degree assault of the elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant or mentally impaired, first-degree arson and first-degree kidnapping with a firearm. Pedophiles who have sexually assaulted children are eligible for early release from prison as a result of the Governor’s legislation.
If I wasn’t there to witness it myself I could have scarcely believed such bad public policy would pass the House – but it did by a vote of 90-56, mostly along part lines.
Rapists, arsonists and kidnappers are hardly the types of criminals I expected Democrats and Governor Malloy to advocate releasing from prison early to save money. It is especially frustrating when it appears one of the only places Governor Malloy can manage to find something he is willing to cut in state government to save money involves getting violent criminals back on the streets quicker.
This is clear evidence that this administration’s priorities are completely backward. When we need to bring jobs back to Connecticut, we are sending businesses away. When we need to be lowering taxes on the middle class we are raising them to levels higher than ever before. When we should be cutting government, we are growing it larger than ever before. And now, when we should be keeping our streets safe, we are about to let violent criminals out early from jail to save a few bucks. Governor Malloy and our state’s Democrat leaders are in the weeds. They’ve lost their way. And we are paying for it in more ways than any of us could have imagined.