CT Newsjunkie columnist Sara Darer Littman digs deeper into the incredible decision by Connecticut’s legislative leaders to dump the professional staff of its Program Review and Investigations Committee rather than trim the legislature’s partisan, political staff.
As explained in last week’s Wait, What? post entitled, Surprise! CT Legislature decides to function in the dark,
As the former House Chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Program Review and Investigation Committee, I’ve waited with baited breath as Connecticut’s legislative leaders’ contemplated ways to trim their generous legislative branch budget.
One option facing the Democratic-controlled Legislative Management Committee was to reduce the number of partisan, political staff that serve as the part-time legislator’s year-around aides.
Alternatively, legislative leaders announced that would have to consider taking the unprecedented and illogical step of eliminating the professional staff who work for the critically important Program Review and Investigation Committee, the primary entity that allows the legislature to investigate and oversee Executive Branch programs.
What, oh what, would legislative leaders do when faced with such a “difficult” decision?
Should they take a small step that might reduce their power of incumbency or decide it is better to simply fly blind when it comes to the Legislative Branch’s oversight function?
With the stark headline, CT legislature’s chief investigative panel to lose all staff, the CT Mirror reported on the recent decision made by the legislative leaders.
CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains,
State legislative leaders have eliminated the General Assembly’s chief investigative arm, reassigning most of the Program Review and Investigations Committee’s 11-member staff to other duties in coming months.
The committee was established 44 years ago over the veto of then-Gov. Thomas Meskill.
In her follow up to the initial news, Sara Darer Littman writes;
The bottom line is that fewer analysts will be looking at the financial consequences of our state legislation and programs, which cannot possibly be viewed as a good thing by any rational taxpayer.
What makes this move particularly disturbing, especially in light of what’s been happening with the state’s economic incentives, is that the program review staff would have been assigned to review hundreds of millions of dollars in business tax incentives if Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s bill — which was passed by both houses of the legislature — had not been subsequently vetoed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Some of us are old enough to remember when the Governor came to office pledging to run an “open and transparent” government.
Sara Darer Littman goes on to lay bare the vague rationale behind the legislature’s recent decision to destroy their oversight function. Her piece raises serious questions that every legislator should be forced to answer.
You can read and comment on her commentary piece at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_budget_changes_hamstring_good_government/