Regular Session Ends, Overtime Soon

What is there, really, to say about the end of the session? I feel like I can’t say much, because so much of the real work has yet to be done. Budget negotiations are at an absolute standstill, which is where they’ve been for months. The new fiscal year begins July 1st.

What did this session accomplish? There were a few noteworthy pieces of legislation, including the health care plan SustiNet, the codification of gay marriage into our statutes, and the repeal of the death penalty. There were also some rather spectacular failures, like the attempt to change the governance structure of the Catholic Church.

However, that 500 pound gorilla, the budget, is still sitting in the room. They’ve been ignoring it all session long, but they really can’t ignore it much longer. They can’t do what they did last year, which was to stay absolutely still, change nothing, and hope it went away (it didn’t). Major decisions regarding service cuts and/or tax increases need to be made. No budget gimmicks will save them this time. Whatever they and the governor eventually decide, a lot of people will be unhappy. It will not be pleasant, which is why, like a college student faced with a 20-page paper, they’ve been putting it off.

The Speaker says he’d like to see a budget in two weeks. Those are bold words. But can he deliver on them? The governor seems to be in a concilliatory mood, but will that last?

The 2009 session is over. But really, I feel like it hasn’t even started.

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19 responses to “Regular Session Ends, Overtime Soon

  1. What did this session accomplish? There were a few noteworthy pieces of legislation, including the health care plan SustiNet

    Noteworthy, maybe? An accomplishment? Hardly. No funding, no plan, just more study.
    And I think you missed the opening up the Stae’s Gold Plated Health Care Plan to muni’s and small businesses by self-insuring. It requires both itellectual honesty and realistic fiscal discipline for self insurance to work, qualities not in long supply at the Capitol. Put this idea on your watch list for major unfunded liabilities in the near future.

  2. Joe Sixpack

    I just heard some blurbs on the TIC radio news – Sen. Harris was patting himself on the back for getting automatic defibrillators in schools, and Sen. Meyer was touting the daycare pesticide bill – those are great accomplishments – for a PTA! Hey, did you guys raise enough at the bake sale to buy a new computer, too?

    And Dick Roy was talking about the exotic pet ban, and said the next time you are out getting your morning newspaper and come face to face with the neighbors’ tiger, there will be a process in place to file a complaint with the state. That was his actual, honest to goodness scenario.

    Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 supermajority!

    The one job that the state constitution demands that they do, balance and pass the budget, they failed to do. They failed to even address or acknowledge the double billing for travel and the theft of PAC funds for personal use by Gaffey; the multiple forgeries of Crisco trying to get his hands on the free taxpayer money to run his campaign; or the O’Rourke incident where a woman ended up dead.

    But we did drag up some executives and force them to testify about bonuses that Chris Dodd got for them in a federal bill rat, we attempted to punish the Catholic Church, we reverted to our old ways of letting criminals out of jail earlier and getting them back on the streets, we added deposits to water bottles, tried to extort a nickel for a plastic bag at the supermarket, and generally made our state more dangerous and more expensive.

    So thank you, legislature. I guess the best news is that you remain a part-time employer filled with quarter-time minds. At least time ran out before you could make any more ridiculous laws or make our lives more miserable. That’s something……

  3. Dempsey Dem

    Come-on now…have a little compassion.

    It took the Legislature over 150 years to apologise for slavery. How long before we get a budget? They only had five months.

  4. A mediocre session from a mediocre bunch

  5. A mediocre session from a mediocre bunch

    Mediocre? Boy, you must really like these people!

  6. AndersonScooper

    Fact is: THINGS WOULD BE DIFFERENT WITH A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR!

    Instead we get Rell who put forward a pretend world where the budget could be balanced without massive lay-offs and/or tax increases.

    So if the Statehouse Dems have to sit tight until Rell’s fantasy bubble bursts, I don’t blame them.

    The budget drama be playing out differently had Rell chosen honesty over political gamesmanship.

  7. Fact is: THINGS WOULD BE DIFFERENT WITH A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR!

    You are right….and we would all be looking at a $3.3 billion dollar tax increase, sales tax exemption elimination on many important items, and a 30% across the board business surtax. And that is just what I read in the papers….I’m sure there are more backdoor taxes. Great plan….

    Anderson….do you want to be the ONLY person left in Connecticut?

  8. The budget drama be playing out differently had Rell chosen honesty over political gamesmanship.

    “Honesty”….are you serious? How honest was it when the supermajority voted DOWN their OWN budget on the Senate and House floors? If they really believed in their budget which they passed out of committee they would have all voted for it, no?

    That, my friend, is the very defination of “political gamesmanship.”

  9. AndersonScooper

    It’s all one big game, I agree.

    But it started when Rell “led” us into fantast-world thinking.

    With the inability for the State to run deficits, of course taxes were going to go up. Who hasn’t known that?

  10. Mediocre? Boy, you must really like these people!

    Heath is very polite.

  11. “With the inability for the State to run deficits, of course taxes were going to go up. Who hasn’t known that?”

    Honest to God what color is the sky in your world??

    How the hell do you think the state has managed to produce “balanced” budgets for so many years while at the same time producing an under funding DEFICIT in the state worker, teacher pension funds, and retire benefit funds of over 50 BILLION dollars????????? The state has found a very easy way to run deficits while keeping the truth away from the voters who are so happy to keep their heads in the sand as long as their taxes don’t go up.

    The very irony of all this is if “leaders” like Donovan, Williams and yes every other member of the General Assembly including our Governors had shown the guts over the years to do their part to limit spending to a rate which we could honestly afford, so much of what we all now want, but cannot now afford, would have been possible.

    So things would be different if we had a Democrat for a governor??? I think things would have been a lot different, as well as a lot better, if we had a Republican controlled General Assembly. Sadly we can’t always get what we want. But we can stop being part of the problem by excusing away gross incompetence when see it, just like all those uninvolved voters who are happy to look the other way as long as their taxes don’t go up.

  12. With the inability for the State to run deficits, of course taxes were going to go up. Who hasn’t known that?

    Says who? There are two ways to close a deficit: increasing revenue and cutting spending.

    Slashing taxes will accomplish only half of that goal.

  13. Fact is: THINGS WOULD BE DIFFERENT WITH A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR!

    Yes, I agree. We would be challenging California for which state could go bankrupt first.

  14. Would someone please explain what the purpose was to “codify” same sex marriage laws? Couldn’t they simply have used an implementer bill and saved the long hours of debate? TIA

  15. CT Citizen

    Its remarkable that so many ignore the simple fact that the economic collapse, fueled by Republican Laissez-faire economics, is directly responsible for the state’s budget shortfall. The rate of spending has been capped since the income tax was instituted and we’ve had Republican Governors since then as well – each approving the budget. At no time in modern history has the state adopted a budget without the signature of the Governor.

    Across the nation, states with Republican Governors and Republican Legislatures are facing massive budget deficits because the economy has collapsed, not because of the myth of”overspending.”

    In fact, our budgets have been reflective of the values of CT residents. That conservative bloggers don’t agree with these values does not surprise me. That conservative bloggers don’t understand that residents (voters) weigh their taxes against thier own expectations of government and then elect like-minded individuals does surprise me.

    I don’t like paying taxes. Most people don’t. I pay taxes because taxes are the dues we pay to live in a civilized society. I do like living in a civilized society and would agree to pay even more taxes if government delivered more of the services I want for my family and my neighbors.

  16. Wolcottboy

    I just heard some blurbs on the TIC radio news – Sen. Harris was patting himself on the back for getting automatic defibrillators in schools, and Sen. Meyer was touting the daycare pesticide bill – those are great accomplishments – for a PTA! Hey, did you guys raise enough at the bake sale to buy a new computer, too?

    And even these “laws” aren’t even laws. A law must be enforceable, so mandates would qualify as them. The AEDs in schools law says that they must be present “if funds are available.” If the funding isn’t available, then the AED’s are not required. Not a bad mother may- I have a cookie way to govern, but in this economy there aren’t many cookies.

    Honestly, a student council has more leadership than this group of Democrats.

    Hats off to the Republican use of procedure to save this state from more detrimental legislation.

    Instead we get Rell who put forward a pretend world where the budget could be balanced without massive lay-offs and/or tax increases.

    While this might have been a way to avoid adding thousands more people to the unemployment lines, I haven’t heard her office say this and my adversaries don’t usually accept my graceful and reasonable explanations.

    So, this was a mistake. How do you merge departments without laying off personel. The result is a bigger department filled with more inefficiency than you had before. What’s the point? No wonder even moderate Democrats are frustrated.

    My favorite moment last night was where a standard 24 page bill to convey land to the state was presented on the floor of the House. The Speaker moved to summarize the bill. Cafero objected to summarization. The House then stood still for nealy 15 minutes as leadership tried to figure out what to do. If we can’t summarize, what do we do? The bill had pages and pages of longitudinal and lattitude coordinates “44 degrees, 56 minutes and 3 seconds north east to a point 300 feet 72 degrees, 23 minutes and 34 seconds west….”

    Great drama.
    (that bill later was passed)

  17. Its remarkable that so many ignore the simple fact that the economic collapse, fueled by Republican Laissez-faire economics, is directly responsible for the state’s budget shortfall. The rate of spending has been capped since the income tax was instituted and we’ve had Republican Governors since then as well – each approving the budget. At no time in modern history has the state adopted a budget without the signature of the Governor.

    Really, Citizen, this is almost as amusing as last night’s laff riot about how the Gov and the Dems “HAVE TO” agree on legislation for it to happen … just like they did on the death penalty, the Senate vacancy bill, the menu bill, the yatta yatta yatta bill …

    Funny, funny stuff.

    Stop yourself, if you can, and consider who’s been running both chambers of the Legislature all but the merest fraction of those years. (Hint: It ain’t the Grand Old Party.)

    Yeah, yeah — Republican governors have signed the bills. Because in the end, to get their signature, the Dems would trade away some of the most batshit crazy, spend-o-matic ideas.

    Governors can be a firewall. That’s what Rell is doing now — and thank Christ for it. But they can only do so much in the face of rapacious special interests and jaw-dropping incompetence.

  18. CTcentrist

    Stop yourself, if you can, and consider who’s been running both chambers of the Legislature all but the merest fraction of those years. (Hint: It ain’t the Grand Old Party.)

    Yeah, yeah — Republican governors have signed the bills. Because in the end, to get their signature, the Dems would trade away some of the most batshit crazy, spend-o-matic ideas.

    Governors can be a firewall. That’s what Rell is doing now — and thank Christ for it. But they can only do so much in the face of rapacious special interests and jaw-dropping incompetence.

    A spot-on point, Red Five. I have been saying essentially the same thing since I started blogging here over two years ago. 30 years of (almost) uninterupted reign has made this majority in the legislature so corrupt, so arrogant, it can’t even see it. Hopefully the Gov. will run again, and hopefully she will bring in so GOP legislators with her this time (though that has not been her track record to date). I’d love some theory on why that happens.

  19. “Its remarkable that so many ignore the simple fact that the economic collapse, fueled by Republican Laissez-faire economics, is directly responsible for the state’s budget shortfall.”

    The last time we had massive budget deficits like these was when we had our last Democratic governor. That Governor chose not to run for re election and as a result we got Weicker and our income tax. That tax was supposed to both limit spending, as well as solve our budget problems. It did neither. It only allowed spending to grow faster than ever, and as a result only made our budget problems bigger.

    To suggest our current problems are only a direct result of Republican Laissez-faire economics only shows how myopic the vision of so many of us is. This state has not been able to afford to the tune of over $50 billion dollars what is has promised the very people it employees. The vast majority of that huge deficit was created to produce “balanced” budgets we couldn’t afford long before any economic collapse. In fact most of that shortfall was created during the good economic times.

    The bottom line is very clear to anyone who is willing to accept the truth. We are spending, and have been for a very long time now way beyond any ability to pay for our bills. If an economic collapse caused by irresponsible Republicans was the cause of our current mess one would expect “responsible” Democrats would at least do the right thing and cut spending now.

    To me it’s remarkable that Donovan and Williams seem intent to recklessly go on as if there has been no economic collapse at all. It’s almost as if they think their mission is to bankrupt this state as fast as possible. They are the very definition of total incompetence. They are the best advertising I can think of for term limits.

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