Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey told reporters Monday that his decision to leave one of the highest political positions in Connecticut had to do with the demands of the office.
"The job itself is supposedly part-time but it actually takes a lot more than that to be Speaker and that was taking such a toll on my personal and my professional life that I didn’t really feel I could ask my wife and my family to endure that for another two and a half years," Sharkey said.
The Hamden lawmaker first won election in 2000 and was selected as Speaker of the House in 2012. He admits that his term running the 151-member chamber has been plagued by some of the worst times the state has seen.
“It began with the Newtown tragedy and our response to that and then continued through a number of other trials and tribulations leading ultimately up to the budget we just passed last week,” he said.
Much of the past year was consumed by difficult budget crafting, sagging revenues, and projected deficits in the billions of dollars. He said Connecticut's economic future is "hanging in the balance."
Sharkey said the way the state spends money has to change. In particular, he was asked about the way the state provides funds to cities and towns in the form of grants and overall municipal aid packages. He said the state will continue to face difficult times unless that relationship changes and municipalities start sharing critical and expensive services like police, fire, and other government functions.
“I attempted to use this financial crisis as a reason to make those changes at the local level, both on the municipal side and the board of ed side. The push-back was overwhelming and I’m hoping that as we go into this new budget reality, this new fiscal reality in the state of Connecticut that that resistance will continue to erode and that folks at the local level will get it and that this is not sustainable at the state or local level,” Shakery said.
Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney echoed those views in his statement about Sharkey, saying, "he has been a champion of regional initiatives and more efficient and effective government at the state and local level." He added that Sharkey retiring is a "great loss" for the state of Connecticut.
Gov. Dannel Malloy said of Sharkey, "He has been a tireless champion on many issues, most notably helping cities and towns reduce costs and save taxpayer dollars through regional coordination of services. I thank him for his service to our state, and wish him and his wife Diane the very best.”