I would have understood and sympathized if the members of a new state commission charged with righting Connecticut’s fiscal shipwreck had run for the exits, never to return, after hearing just how badly we’re stuck on the economic shoals.

The group — the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth — met for the first time Friday at the state Capitol. And the grim numbers they saw and heard could have easily rivaled, say, the condition of The Hartford Financial Services Group back in early 2009 when that company fell below $4 a share and many thought it would not survive as an independent concern.

But these are big girls and boys — including Christoper Swift, CEO of The Hartford, now a stable insurer with 7,000 Connecticut employees, and James Loree, CEO of New Britain-based Stanley Black & Decker, which has grown from $2 billion to nearly $13 billion in revenue in his tenure there, largely under two prior CEOs.

Let the record show, no one ran out the door when they heard the numbers.

“I had done my homework prior, so, no,” commission member Cindi Bigelow, CEO of the famous Fairfield-based tea company that bears the family name, said as she pointed to a pile of documents at her seat.

“What’s coming in Year 3 and and Year 4 is just astronomical ...,” Bigelow said. “Right now we have a small window to make a difference.”

What’s coming is more deficits — and it could be even worse if we have another recession, a better than even bet by 2022. Specifically, we’re looking at projected budget shortfalls of $1.9 billion, $2.6 billion and $3.1 billion in the three years starting in fiscal 2020.

That’s after significant cutting over the last several years. The state’s regular, full-time workforce has fallen by 12 percent in seven years under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, though many of his adversaries falsely paint him as a big spender.

And that’s after a refinancing of the pension debt and a 10-year deal with state employees that could save the state $20 billion, both in the last year.

Here’s just one more stat: The state income tax, which generates $9 billion, or about half the general fund, will bring in $1.4 billion less this year than was projected two years ago for this year. As they say on Wall Street, never try to catch a falling knife.

And yet, that’s exactly what this august group is charged with doing — dealing with mandated spending on debt, liabilities, health care and town aid that amounts to 75 percent of the state budget and is growing at more than 5 percent a year as revenues remain flat.

Its genesis was last spring, when Robert Patricelli convened a group of concerned citizens to figure out what they could do.

“It’s our watch. You don’t delegate in a democracy, you don’t delegate just to public officials,” said Patricelli, who recently retired as CEO of the third health-related company he founded, Women’s Health USA in Avon.

Patricelli and James Smith, who is about to retire on Dec. 31 as CEO of Webster Bank and its parent company, is the co-chairman and Patricia Widlitz, a former Democratic state representative from Guilford who co-chaired the General Assembly’s finance committee, is vice chair.

So it’s a high-powered panel, bipartisan. Great, another panel. I heard the snickering in the cafeteria a few feet away, and Patricelli acknowledged it.

In response, he said, the appointed commission members insisted on a twist: Whatever they suggest, by a March 1 deadline, must be voted up or down by the legislature, “as amended by the committee process,” which I hope isn’t a death-knell caveat.

Something has to work. Everyone agrees there are no easy answers despite what you will hear from people running for office. If it were a matter of cutting spending and reducing debt, we’d have done that already.

And if anyone thinks it’s just a matter of special interests winning over Democrats in power, I remind you, Republicans these days can’t seem to live with a $54 million-a-year cut in a program to help older people pay for medical services beyond what’s covered in Medicare. They may call a special session to reverse that cut made by Malloy.

“It’s a tall order and that’s what we signed up for, but I don’t think anyone here is a shrinking violet,” Patricelli said.

Nor are they politically naive. The group already started looking at highway tolls and will examine health and social welfare benefits Connecticut offers compared with surrounding states.

“We may not have the right to not be competitive with other states when we’re falling this far behind in meeting our obligations,” Smith said.

Both of the giant-company CEOs made clear it’s not just about cutting.

“We’re very concerned,” said Loree, at Stanley. “We saw the exit of General Electric, we saw the exit of Aetna’s headquarters and we are sincerely, sincerely concerned about the state’s ability to grow its economy.”

He added, I’m going to bring a growth focus…and a competitiveness focus.”

“I’m a growth-oriented guy,” Swift said to me on a break. “We’ve got to figure out how to finance growth.”