The State Is Digging Out Of Its Hole

Connecticut's recovery from the economic recession is still painfully slow. The state's unemployment rate is above the national average at 8.1 percent. Residents' personal income growth declined 1.7 percent in the first quarter of the year, trailing all New England states. The state was last in the nation in economic growth last year. The cost of doing business here is still too high.

But Connecticut taxpayers got some much-needed good news in Comptroller Kevin Lembo's announcement this week that the state ended the fiscal year with a surplus of $312 million. The surplus could go even higher, to nearly $360 million.

As Mr. Lembo pointed out, some of the windfall is the result of one-hit wonders such as higher-than-expected revenue from the estate tax. Those happy accidents can't be counted on to continue.

But Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, deserves credit for his efforts to hold the line on the budget, too. The growth of the budget of this past fiscal year was a miserly 1.3 percent compared to the year before, a true accomplishment.

That compares with a budget increase average of 7.3 percent in the years leading up to the recession under Republican governors in league with Democratic legislatures.

One of those governors, John G. Rowland, had boasted back in 2002, "I'm the firewall," and "If you had a liberal Democratic governor and a Democratic legislature, there'd be no discipline, no restraint whatsoever" in state spending. But spending went up 4.8 percent during Mr. Rowland's tenure.

Some of the surplus money will go to the nearly depleted rainy day fund, which will total $212 million with the new contribution. Comptroller Lembo says the fund should really be closer to $2 billion. The state has a long way to go.

Progress like this, nevertheless, is welcome.

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