When it comes to the power of government, this may be the single most important story since Governor Malloy became Connecticut’s Governor.
During the General Assembly’s Regular Session the Malloy Administration proposed increasing the amount a governor can cut without legislative approval from 5% to 10%.
The Legislature said NO.
During the General Assembly’s June Special the Malloy Administration proposed increasing the amount a governor can cut without legislative approval from 5% to 10%.
The Legislature said NO.
In the end, on July 1, 2011 the Legislature adopted a bill and gave Governor Malloy TEMPORARY authority to cut up to 10% (but excluded municipal aid from that cut).
House Bill 6701, Section 6 provided that from July 1, 2011 until September 30, 2011 the Governor’s emergency authority to cut the budget was increased. The language read “No Modification of an allotment requisition or an allotment in force made by the Governor pursuant to this section shall result in a reduction of more than ten per cent of the total appropriation from any fund or more than ten per cent of any specific appropriation.”
These are extraordinary times and Governor Malloy was given extraordinary authority to cut the budget up to 10% of any given line item.
But late last week we learned that Governor Malloy had targeted the “good government agencies” for 15 percent cuts and when asked by a reporter how they had the legal standing to make such a cut, the Malloy Administration pointed to Section 8 of House Bill 6701.
Section 8 reads “The Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management shall recommend to the Governor reductions in expenditures for the executive branch for the fiscal years ending June 30, 2012, and June 30, 2013, and shall, upon approval of the Governor, reduce such expenditures by the amount of the executive branch budget savings and employee reduction…” [The $700 million in concessions for this year and the $900 for next year].
The Malloy Administration claims that this section gives the Governor the authority to cut up to $700 million – WITH NO LIMIT BY ACCOUNT.
Putting aside why Governor Malloy would target the state’s ethics program, the state’s Freedom of Information program and the clean campaign program for disproportionate cuts is a separate and serious question.
But how did the Governor get such extraordinary authority when the entire debate revolved around whether he should be given TEMPORARY authority to cut up to 10 percent of an individual program?
The transcript from the House and Senate debate makes it clear that state legislators were told they were voting on a bill that gave the Governor temporary authority to cut 10 percent. There is no mention of that the bill might be giving the Governor the power to make unlimited cuts to agencies.
So when and how did Connecticut get to a place where a sitting governor has the power to make cuts that no governor in history has ever had or ever asked for?
It would appear that the Chairs of the Appropriations Committee – the legislators who explained the bill on the floor of the Senate and House were not aware that this provision would be used in this way.
So, were legislators mislead before the vote and if so, by whom?
Did Speaker of the House Chris Donovan know about this unprecedented power grab before the vote?
Did President Pro-Tempore Don Williams know about the unprecedented power grab before the vote?
If legislators were completely mislead – it is inconceivable that the Malloy Administration did not tell key legislators after the vote that there were going to use this statute to violate the intent and spirit of the law.
Did Governor Malloy tell Speaker Donovan that he was going to use this statute to grab this power?
Did Governor Malloy tell President Williams that we was going to use this statute to grab this power?
And knowing that rank and file legislators believed they voted for one thing and got something else why didn’t leadership tell the legislators what was going down?
This isn’t just some interesting academic exercise.
I am absolutely sure that if a Republican governor tried to grab power in this way, the Democratic Legislature would be moving to repeal the section or sue the Governor from implementing this cuts.
Agree or disagree with the need for cuts, this move is the single most extraordinary maneuver or gimmick that any governor has used and it is vital that Connecticut’s legislators and media determine who know what, when…
For the original article about this issue see: http://ctmirror.org/story/13559/larger-dispute-looms-over-concession-vote