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What Does a Defeated Budget Mean?

Posted by whforums on June 19, 2008

So, the budget, in incarnation number one, is somewhat convincingly dead.

After about eleven thousand people found it in themselves to vote (and that’s weaksauce, West Hartford), we’re left with the question of relevance. Obviously, the practical ramification is clear — the Town Council will go back to the budget, make cuts (real or superficial), and make vague threats about the impact of a second referendum on town services (you do want your leaves picked up, don’t you?). The “No” people will then be left with a difficult decision as to whether to demand a second referendum. Last year the “No” vote backed down, and this year, they have even less of a mandate, having lost approximately seven percent from their 2007 margin of victory.

So what does a defeated budget mean? What does it tell us about our town? If last November’s election is any indication, it means nothing about the future makeup of the Town Council — West Hartford voted solidly for the same people — and the same party — despite the ’07 referendum. And it likely doesn’t mean much about what the budget will ultimately look like … the odds that this council will produce a budget that does not reflect a tax increase are slimmer than the odds of the sun burning out.

So, here’s what I see. There are about 7000 people in this town who are pissed off — many disenchanted republicans (about 4,000 if we take a cue from the November election numbers) and some independents alongside some crossover democrats. And if there’s a second referendum, many of those same 7000 are likely to hit the polls again (they’re pissed off and voting — not weaksauce).

So, these questions to bicker over through the weekend:

  • “No” voters — at what point would you become a “Yes” voter? What is the basis for an acceptable budget?
  • “Yes” voters — do you believe the Council should make anything beyond superficial adjustments? Should they stand up to the 11% of the population that voted “No” and stand by a budget they crafted?
  • And everyone in between … if there’s a second referendum, will you vote? Or will you continue to be weaksauce?

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