Let’s just say it wasn’t one of Connecticut Legislature’s finest moments.
As two news stories today make pretty clear, a “he said/he said” situation has put $127 million in early childhood funding in jeopardy.
The CT Mirror’s article is entitled Childcare providers worry their money held hostage by politics, while CTNewsjunkie’ s story is called Did Early Childhood Bill Fall Victim To Sunday Bow Hunting?
Here’s the PROBLEM (as reported by CTMirror):
“The state budget shifts $127 million in funding from various state agencies into a new Office of Early Childhood Education… But the office was never statutorily created because the bill that did so was never approved by the state House of Representatives or Senate.”
According to the CT Mirror, “Early childcare providers are concerned the money they currently receive from the state to care for thousands of children is going to stop flowing in three weeks –- because the state budget legislators approved transfers money to an office that doesn’t exist.”
The article goes on to report, “And officials at the State Department of Education are just as perplexed…’We are trying to figure out what it means,’ Brian Mahoney, the agency’s budget chief, said during an interview Thursday.”
Now that is a problem.
So what happened?
The President Pro Tempore of the Connecticut State Senate, Democrat Donald E. Williams Jr. explained that the Republicans held the early childhood bill “hostage” in order to force the State Senate to approve a bill allowing the bow hunting of deer on Sundays.
As William’s explained, “It was reported to me Republicans were holding it hostage for a completely unrelated and obscure issue: Sunday hunting,”
The Republican Leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Lawrence Cafero Jr., told the CT Mirror, “I wasn’t going to stop the early childhood bill…To fingerpoint to my side is an absolute joke.”
Meanwhile, CTNewsjunkie wrote, “Cafero claimed that, ‘you can’t boil the issue down to one bill or another. He said the Democrats wasted time on the last day by trying to sneak language into a bill that moved up the date of when undocumented immigrants could apply for their driver’s licenses. That language was eventually removed, but in the meantime Republicans slowed down debate on the floor…”
But have no fear, Malloy and legislators are already thinking about how to proceed. As the CTNewsjunkie explained, “Williams said they are currently exploring their options and determining whether they can use an executive order and appropriate the funds through one of the existing state agencies. There’s also the option of returning for a special session, or if Malloy vetoes any legislation, a veto session. But Williams said that would be a last resort.”
Good to know that our elected officials can handle the stresses associated with the last few days of the legislative session.
Here are links to the two articles: http://www.ctmirror.org/story/childcare-providers-worry-their-money-held-hostage-politics and http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/did_early_childhood_bill_fall_victim_to_sunday_bow_hunting/