Over the past week, I’ve spent dozens of hours in bipartisan budget negotiations in an attempt to close a $365 million budget deficit. Democrat and Republican leaders in both the Senate and House of Representatives came together with the Governor to begin the difficult process of balancing this year’s budget with the ever looming multi-billion deficit looming in the next fiscal year. Many of the cuts put on the table were painful. As quickly as they were proposed, someone initially would object and the cut would be placed on the hold.
Despite the difficulty, we made remarkable progress throughout the week. Compromise and understanding were the predominant theme. I can say that no one took pleasure with any of the cuts, but we knew the tough decisions had to be made. On Thursday evening, our meeting wrapped up after midnight with an agreement to begin again on Friday. As I returned to Hartford, I received the call from my wife that a shooting occurred in a school in Newtown. Soon after, we assembled in the Capitol to continue our work. As the process began, I don’t think a dry eye existed in the room as the details unfolded. Our Senate Republican leader represents Newton and his absence served as a reminder throughout the day, and his frequent texts certainly put our job into perspective.
By Friday evening, we completed our task of crafting a bipartisan agreement to close a $365 million deficit. Extremely difficult decisions were made, and the process was certainly compounded by the tragic events that unfolded. None of us could predict how our colleagues would accept the plan, and on Wednesday, the legislature made the tough decision and almost unanimously approved the plan. I’m proud to be part of a legislative process where Republicans and Democrats can come together for the betterment of our community. This memory, along with the heartfelt sorrow, will remain forever. I hope, as a community, we will become better and stronger from this experience, and as the Christmas and holiday seasons unfold, may we all keep God’s love in our hearts and pray he gives our residents of Newtown and the state the strength to persevere through these difficult times.
State Rep. Vincent Candelora represents the 86th District, which covers North Branford, Wallingford, Durham and Guilford.