Malloy and Dems take giant step backwards as World Leaders negotiate effort to save the Earth from Climate Change (updated)

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NOTE:  Updated with responses from Malloy administration agencies

Heralded as groundbreaking legislation designed to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gasses, in 2007, Republican Governor Jodi Rell signed legislation that “permanently” exempted weatherization products and energy-efficient light bulbs from the Connecticut State Sales Tax.

The legislation, which was overwhelmingly adopted by the Democratic-controlled Connecticut General Assembly, was cited as one of the state’s major accomplishments.

Gina McCarthy, then Connecticut’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection and now the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, highlighted the “landmark” legislation in her 2007 Annual State Report entitled Protecting and Restoring our Environment.

In a 2014 national EPA report on “Existing State Policies and Programs that Reduce Power Sector CO2 Emissions,” McCarthy’s agency explained the importance of “State tax incentives for energy efficiency,” writing

“…sales tax exemptions…spur private sector innovation to develop more energy efficient technologies and practices and increase consumer choice of energy-efficient products.

To this day, the federal government promotes Connecticut’s sales tax exemption law on its Department of Energy website

However, just two weeks ago as world leaders, including Gina McCarthy, worked around the clock to develop the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Governor Malloy and Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly repealed Connecticut’s important sales tax exemption on weatherization and energy-efficient light bulbs as part of their “Democratic Budget Deal.”

Why?

The reason remains a mystery, but faced with a growing state budget deficit the Democrats’ “budget mitigation bill” included a variety of budget gimmicks, significant cuts to important human services and education programs, a major tax break for General Electric (and a handful of other large companies) and a sentence repealing Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 12-412k. [The state statue that exempts residential weatherization products and energy-efficient light bulbs from the state sales tax]

Section 12-412k. (a) For purposes of this section, “residential weatherization products” means programmable thermostats, window film, caulking, window and door weather strips, insulation, water heater blankets, water heaters, natural gas and propane furnaces and boilers that meet the federal Energy Star standard, windows and doors that meet the federal Energy Star standard, oil furnaces and boilers that are not less than eighty-four per cent efficient and ground-source heat pumps that meet the minimum federal energy efficiency rating.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of the general statutes, the provisions of this chapter shall not apply to sales of any residential weatherization products or compact fluorescent light bulbs.

With no public notice, hearing or debate, Malloy and the legislature simply voted to eliminate the sales tax exemption on residential weatherization products and energy-efficient light bulbs as of January 1, 2016.

The move will mean that Connecticut residents trying to weatherize their homes or buy energy-efficient light bulbs will pay an additional $3.6 million in sales tax to the State of Connecticut in FY 2016 and $7.5 million in FY 2017.

But, of course, perception is always more important than reality;

The recent move to reduce Connecticut’s commitment to energy efficiency and slow climate change didn’t stop Governor Malloy from making sure he was part of the news story and photo opportunity when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy came to Connecticut last week to talk about the Paris Agreement.

As CT Newsjunkie reported with, “EPA Chief Returns to Hartford, Touts Paris Agreement On Climate Change,”

It was a homecoming of sorts for Gina McCarthy, the current administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who served as the head of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 through 2009.

Flanked by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and members of the Connecticut Auto Retailers Association, McCarthy returned to … to talk about the Paris agreement, under which 195 countries have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

She said climate change is one of the biggest “economic and national security challenges of our time,” and because of the leadership of President Barack Obama, “we were able to get an agreement in Paris that everyone should be proud of.”

[…]

McCarthy said the only reason they were able to push forward with a plan to reduce emissions here in the United States and a plan to lower the temperature of the climate globally is because states like Connecticut are paving the way.

[…]

The governor said Connecticut is doing its part to address the impact of global warming.

Several years ago the state passed legislation to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and it became the first “range confident” state for electric vehicles in the nation.

“Climate change is happening. Make no mistake about that,” Malloy said. “And it’s time to take action to address the challenge in a responsible and thoughtful way.”

It’s a problem we can’t fail to act upon, Malloy added.

Yup, Governor Dannel Malloy, who now serves as the head of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and therefore the spokesman for the country’s Democratic Governors actually spoke up about Climate Change saying, “It’s a problem we can’t fail to act upon.”

The only problem is that Malloy failed to tell EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the media or the public that he had, in fact, acted…

But alas, it was in exactly the wrong direction.

Footnote:

The 2007 legislation exempting weatherization and energy-efficient light bulbs passed the Connecticut House of Representatives on June 1, 2007 by a vote of 128 -19, with both present Speaker of the House Sharkey and Majority Leader Aresimowicz voted in favor of the bill. The next day the bill passed the Connecticut State Senate by a vote of 32-3 with now President Pro-Tempore Looney and Majority Leader Duff voting “Yes.”

The advocacy group, Energy Northeast, wrote about the original sales tax exemption stating;

Illustrating the bi-partisan and diverse stakeholder appeal of legislation requiring [greater energy efficiency] is Rhode Island’s 2006 efficiency procurement law [which] passed a Democratic-majority state Senate and House unanimously and was signed at a joint press event with the sitting Republican Governor a few days later. Similarly, Connecticut’s 2007 Efficiency Procurement legislation was passed overwhelming by a Democratic-majority state legislature and signed by a Republican Governor.”

But that was then and this is now…

Eight years after the bi-partisan commitment to promoting energy efficiency and with the issue more important than ever, Connecticut’s Democratic Governor and Democratic General Assembly decided that a few million dollars in additional state revenue was more important than continuing to help Connecticut residents weatherize their homes and buy energy-efficient light bulbs.

Requests for comment were made to Governor Malloy’s Office, the Office of Policy and Management and various agencies in the Malloy administration.

The Department of Revenue Services responded by email saying  they would have no comment.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Communication Director responded as follows:

In these difficult financial times for our state, we recognize that tough decisions have to be made.  In order to balance the state’s budget, the General Assembly has had to look at eliminating sales tax exemptions on many products and services.

While the sales tax exemption that covered many products used for weatherizing homes was certainly an added incentive for people to take action, we believe its elimination will not have a significant impact on the public’s appetite for energy efficiency projects.

Homeowners and businesses understand the importance of weatherization and energy efficiency – and the kinds of saving that can be achieved.  This concept has become deeply embedded in people’s minds and even without an sales tax exemption there will continue to be a strong focus on saving energy.

 

 

You can read more about McCarthy’s visit to Connecticut last week via the CT Mirror’s EPA’s Gina McCarthy stops by with a Paris postcard

 

Dannel “The Master Fund Raider” Malloy demands constitutional transportation lockbox or else!

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Once again we return to the idiom of “Calling the Kettle Black.”

In addition to making an appearance at least once here at Wait, What?, it was used by William Shakespeare, William Penn and can even be found in the epic text of Don Quixote. 

The notion of “Calling the Kettle Black” is a relatively simple one and was in full display yesterday (December 15, 2015) when Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy told the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce that he would get his proposed constitutional amendment for a “Transportation Lockbox” or else.

Malloy, who undoubtedly holds the gubernatorial record for raiding and diverting more dedicated public funds to balance the state budget or paying for things that the funds were never intended to cover told the business leaders that he would demand another vote on his Transportation Lockbox proposal because people had a right to know that their tax revenues were being spent for their intended purpose.

As the CT Newsjunkie reported in Malloy Puts Lawmakers On Notice – Support His Transportation Lockbox Or Face Consequences,

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told business leaders Tuesday that he wants a constitutional amendment for his transportation lockbox. Afterward, he told the news media that he will actively campaign against anyone who votes against it.

Malloy didn’t get the three-quarters vote he needed last week during a special session to get the constitutional amendment on the November 2016 ballot.

“If it goes down again you can be assured I’ll campaign against anybody who didn’t vote for it,” Malloy told reporters after his speech to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.

Malloy used his annual speech to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce to announce that he planned to reintroduce the lockbox legislation in February when the General Assembly reconvenes for its regular session. The language would have to be different than what was proposed during the special session, but Malloy doesn’t know yet exactly how it will be different.

The resolution passed both chambers, but the House vote fell 14 short of the three-quarters it needed.

“Every resident in Connecticut should know that every dollar they put into transportation should be spent on transportation,” Malloy said.

Malloy said the account shouldn’t be raided and that’s what the resolution should make clear. Republican lawmakers were concerned the funds earmarked for the fund would be diverted before they reached the fund.

“Quite frankly, I don’t understand what their position is,” Malloy said of Republican lawmakers.

Republicans were trying to secure the dedicated funding streams for transportation before they reach the lockbox, while Democratic lawmakers were in favor of something less strict.

Malloy’s attack on those who have raised concerns about his transportation lockbox proposal and claim that he “doesn’t understand” why legislators would be wary of his plan is particularly absurd considering Malloy has engaged in a consistent effort to raid and divert taxpayer funds that were promised, even legally mandated by law, to be spent on one purpose but ended up being spent on something else.

Just last week, as part of the “Democratic Budget Deal, Malloy and Democratic legislator halted a  scheduled transfer of $2.1 million from the General Fund to the Special Transportation Fund, instead, keeping the money in the General Fund in an effort to reduce this year’s budget deficit.

In fact, since becoming governor, Malloy has regularly diverted tens of millions of public dollars every year, money that dedicated for one purpose, but under his leadership were spent on something else.

The list of Malloy’s fund raids and budget diversions is a ponderous one. 

The following are just a few of the examples in which Governor Malloy and the legislature shifted money around before or after it was “dedicated” to a particular program.

$40,000 transferred from the Emergency Spill Response to be used for marketing costs for free park admission weekend (FY14)

$600,000 transferred from the Tax Relief for the Elderly Renters to be used for universal pre-kindergarten planning grants at the district and regional levels. (FY14)

$275,000 transferred from the Tax Relief for the Elderly Renters to be used for start-up costs for additional pre-kindergarten seats (FY14)

$19 million transferred from the CT Student Loan Foundation financial assets to the Board of Regents, $1.6 million from the CT Student Loan Foundation financial assets to replace a General Fund reduction in the Governor’s Higher Education Scholarship program and $4.4 million of the CT Student Loan Foundation financial assets to the CHET Baby Scholars Trust (FY14)

$100,000 transferred from the Judicial Department Children of Incarcerated Parents account to the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University to fund the New Haven Family Alliance outreach worker program. (FY14)

$686,538 transferred from the of the Minority Advancement program, within the Office of Higher Education to the Connecticut General Fund to reduce the state deficit. (FY14)

$13.95 million that was taken from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to cover Connecticut’s Generally Accepted Account Principles (GAAP) accruals that was then transferred to the General Fund to reduce the state deficit (FY14) [In May of 2013, Connecticut joined 21 other states in a partial settlement with the major tobacco companies of a dispute dating from 2006 regarding payments to the states under the 1998 MSA, from which Connecticut received $63 million. Of the $63 million total, up to $40 million was reserved to help fulfill the state’s obligation to meet Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)]”

$1 million transferred from the Biomedical Research Trust Fund to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY14 + FY15)

$500,000 transferred from the Private Occupational School Student Protection account to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY 15)

$2.5 million from transferred from the Private Occupational School Student Protection Account to the general fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY15)

$10 million annually transferred from the Tobacco Settlement Fund to the smart start competitive grant account for the establishment or expansion of public preschool programs. (FY16-FY25)

$50,000 of the amount appropriated to the Board of Regents for Higher Education be used for the maintenance of the Iwo Jima Memorial and Park located in Newington. The cost had traditionally been paid for with private funds. (FY16)

$1 million transferred from the Private Occupational School Student Protection account to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16 + FY17)

$2 million transferred from the Tobacco Settlement Fund to the State Department of Education’s “Smart Start Grant Program” to provide grants to local and regional boards of education to reimburse costs incurred in the implementation, on or before July 1, 2017, of a kindergarten entrance inventory developed by the Office of Early Childhood for each child enrolled in kindergarten. (FY16 + FY17)

$2.25 million from the Citizens Election Fund (CEF) to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY15)

$750,000 from the Judicial Data Processing Revolving Fund to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY15)

$3 million transferred from the School Bus Seat Belt to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY15)

$2 million transferred from the Biomedical Research Fund to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$2 million transferred from the School Bus Seat Belt to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$1 million transferred from the Lottery Assessment Program to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit. (FY16)

$400,000 transferred from the Drug Asset Forfeiture Program to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit. (fy16)

$2 million transferred from the Private Occupational School Student Protection account to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$8.5 million in student tuition and fees from the University of Connecticut Operating Fund transferred to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$1.8 million in student tuition and fees from the Connecticut State University Board of Regents Operating Fund transferred to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$1.8 million in student tuition and fees from the Connecticut Community and Technical College Board of Regents Operating Fund transferred to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$3 million in patient fees and other revenue from the UConn Health Center Operating Fund transferred to the General Fund to reduce the Budget Deficit (FY16)

$2 million From the Biomedical Research fund to the General Fund to reduce the Budget Deficit (FY16)

And the list goes on and on and on…

It is truly laughable that Malloy would claim that he is so committed to a “Transportation Lockbox” that he will campaign against any legislator who opposes him,  unless of course, he adds that the lockbox is needed to keep him from doing exactly what he has been doing since the day he was sworn in as Connecticut’s governor.

Denying reality, Malloy blames legislature for cuts to Tourism and Arts in recent “Democratic budget bill”

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In a stunning attempt at revisionist history, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy took to WNPR radio to blame the Connecticut General Assembly for the recent cuts to the state’s tourism and arts programs when, in fact, it was the legislature that had reduced – by a significant amount – the cuts that Malloy has repeatedly has wanted to those programs.

However, the truth didn’t stop the Democratic Governor from throwing the legislature, and especially his Democratic colleagues, under the bus.

Here are the facts:

At the beginning of this year, Governor Dannel Malloy proposed a state budget that reduced Connecticut’s “Still Revolutionary” Tourism Marketing Program from $12 million to $10 million dollars.

At the same time, Malloy proposed about $5.9 million in cuts to Connecticut’s various museums, cultural and arts programs.

During the budget process, the Connecticut legislature rejected the vast majority of cuts to the cultural and arts programs but did reduce funding for the State Tourism Marketing Program by an additional $500,000, bringing this year’s State Tourism Marketing Program to a total of $9.5 million.

This fall, faced with a growing state budget deficit, despite having claimed he had signed a balanced budget 90 days earlier, Governor Malloy called for bi-partisan budget negotiations to develop a new budget deficit mitigation plan to balance the budget.

As part of that process, on November 10, 2015, Malloy issued a proposed list of budget cuts that included an additional $1 million cut to the State’s Tourism Programs ($500,000 for the State Tourism Marketing Campaign and $500,000 to the State Tourism Districts.)  Malloy also proposed an additional $4.5 million in cuts to the state’s museums, cultural and arts programs.

When the Democrats in the General Assembly passed the “Democratic Budget Deal” last week, it included a $1 million reduction to the State Tourism Marketing Program, but again rejected Malloy’s attack on Connecticut’s culture and art programs.

But rather than tell WNPR Connecticut Public Radio’s Ray Hardman the truth during a recent news segment about the budget cuts to the State’s tourism and arts programs, Malloy straight out lied about his role in the entire process.

First, in a politically blatant maneuver to mislead the public, Malloy tried to suggest that the decision to reduce state funding for tourism and arts was the result of a bi-partisan agreement, which of course, is completely false.   While the budget negotiations began with the Republican legislative leaders at the table, no bi-partisan agreement could be reached and the package was eventually passed with only Democrats voting in favor of the bill.

Second, in an even more politically embarrassing move – considering Malloy isn’t up for re-election in 2016, but Democratic legislators will be facing voters next November –  Malloy decided to throw his fellow Democrats under the bus for suggesting that it was the legislators who were the ones focused on cutting tourism and the arts.

As WNPR’s story explained;

Tourism and the arts took a hit in the budget adjustment agreed on by Governor Dannel Malloy and the legislature in special session earlier this week. The adjustment was needed to fill a $350 million hole in the state budget.

The biggest hit to culture and tourism was a $1 million cut to the state’s “Still Revolutionary” tourism marketing campaign. That’s despite strong tourism numbers this summer, showing increases in both hotel occupancy and out of state visitors. Regional tourism offices were also affected.

“It’s not something I advocated for,” said Malloy of the cuts in an editorial meeting with WNPR. “But in a bipartisan process, you have to make compromises. Members of the legislature are not as supportive as I am, and this is an ongoing and fairly constant battle.”

That Malloy would duck his role in cutting state funding for tourism and arts programs by suggesting that the Republicans supported his budget proposal is bad enough, but considering that as a Democrat, Malloy is supposed to be supporting his fellow Democratic elected officials, it is particularly troubling that the Governor would twist the truth in an effort to blame Democratic legislators when they were the ones who were actually working to reduce the damaging cuts that Malloy was trying to push through.

Of course, more cuts to tourism and the arts are coming since the Democrats in the General Assembly did give Malloy the authority to cut an additional $93 million from this year’s state budget, cuts that he will make without the legislators review or approval.

When WNPR asked about that next round of cuts, Malloy said that culture, arts and tourism would be far down on his list of possible new cuts…

Yeah and I have a nice bridge for sale….

Democratic Budget Deal – An irresponsible farce

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The Connecticut General Assembly will return to the state capital today to vote on a “Democratic Budget Deal” that they claim will eliminate this year’s budget deficit by authorizing Governor Dannel Malloy to cut an additional $93 million in unspecified programs and raiding money from a variety of dedicated special funds.

A CT Mirror article written by Keith Phaneuf and entitled, CT deficit plan taps many special funds and one-time sources, pretty much sums of the Democrat’s budget balancing strategy.

One of the most disturbing provisions of the new “Democratic Budget Deal” is that for the third time in three years the Democrats are going to steal the money that has been set-aside to install seatbelts in school buses and use the funds to help balance the state budget.

On December 20, 2012, the Wait, What? headline read; Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority?

Following the tragic school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford in January 2010, a crash that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools, the legislature kicked into action.

On May 1st of that year the General Assembly passed what was to become Public Act 10-83.

The law created the Connecticut School Bus Seat Belt account, “a separate non-lapsing account in the General Fund” and required the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to administer a program to use the funds in the account to help school districts pay for the cost of equipping school buses with lap/shoulder (3-point) seat belts.

To pay for the program, the Legislature increased the cost associated with restoring a suspended driver’s license from $125 to $175.

[On 12/19/2012] the Legislature’s deficit mitigation bill included language overriding the previous law and transferring the $4,700,000 from the School Bus Seat Belt account into the General Fund to help eliminate this year’s $415 million deficit.

Gone is the money for school seat belts.

That tragedy was yesterday’s news.

And besides, who would remember that the account in question grew out of the concern elected officials had for the safety of our children.

Then on June 3, 2015 came, The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget

[Or for long-time Wait, What? readers file under – Not the Fricking School Bus Seat Belts again!]

After working through the night, the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut State House of Representatives and the Connecticut State Senate finally twisted enough arms to take up the state budget plan that they negotiated with Governor Dannel Malloy.

After hours of debate, the House passed the $40.3 billion, two-year budget plan by a vote of 73 to 70 with eleven Democrats voting against their party’s leadership.

[…]

Section 55(d) of the budget requires that,

“On or before June 30, 2015, the sum of $ 3,000,000 shall be transferred from the school bus seat belt account, established in section 14-50b of the general statutes, and credited to the resources of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.

Wait, What?

These people would actually steal the money that is dedicated install seat belts into school buses and dump it into this year’s General Fund to make the state deficit look smaller?

Who on earth would do such a terrible thing?

On wait, I remember?

And so will long time Wait, What? readers.

Now, as Keith Phaneuf reports,

Other fund diversions used to supplement the new deficit-mitigation plan include:

  • $22.1 million from reserve accounts from public colleges and universities.

  • $2 million from a biomedical research fund.

  • $2 million from a program to fit school buses with seat belts.

  • And nearly $3.7 million from four miscellaneous accounts.

This additional raid of the School Bus Seatbelt Fund means that over the course of three years, the Democrats have diverted nearly $10 million in funds meant to retrofit school busses with seatbelts and used that money to fill holes in the state budget.

And if that bait and switch maneuver isn’t disturbing enough, imagine if you were a parent of a student attending one of Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.  You’ve paid thousands and thousands of dollars, potentially tens of thousands of dollars, in tuition and fees and now you learn that Connecticut’s elected officials are reaching into the university and college’s “reserve accounts” (funded by tuition) and grabbing $22.1 million to balance the state budget.

The CT Mirror article goes on to explain;

While the General Assembly is expected to adopt a plan in special session Tuesday to close most or all of this fiscal year’s budget deficit, restore some funds for hospitals and finance modest business tax breaks, almost 40 percent of the plan diverts resources from specialized funds and various one-time sources.

[…]

Besides mitigating or eliminating that shortfall, the savings also will be used, Democratic legislative leaders said, to restore some earlier cuts to hospitals and social service programs, as well as to finance modest corporation tax cuts.

The Democratic plan, which Republican minorities in the House and Senate are expected to vote against, also would produce $212 million in savings in the 2016-17 fiscal year, Looney added. According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, next fiscal year already faces a built-in hole of $552 million.

But according to a summary of the plan obtained by The Mirror, just over $135 million in general fund savings this fiscal year would come by diverting or raiding other programs, including two of the biggest initiatives Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic legislators built into the current budget.

Just over $35 million in revenues owed to the Special Transportation Fund would be diverted, which probably would force officials to draw down the fund’s reserve. Nonpartisan analysts already have warned that the transportation fund — despite being targeted in June to receive an annual share of general fund sales tax receipts — is on pace to fall into deficit by the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Democrats also would defer a $70.4 million deposit owed to a special new revenue-sharing program designed to help cities and towns control property tax hikes.

Finally, perhaps the most telling point of all is that despite the fact that legislators will be voting today on this “package,” the CT Mirror noted that,

“Though full details of the deficit-mitigation bill weren’t available late Monday, the plan also hinges heavily on the administration’s finding $93 million in undefined savings.”

Rather then fulfill their legal and moral obligation to set Connecticut’s State Budget, Democratic legislators will simply hand that task over to Governor Malloy.

Shhhh … Connecticut. It’s a secret budget deal … Don’t talk about it.

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Last summer the Connecticut General Assembly adopted, and Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law, a new state budget that policymakers knew, or should have known, wasn’t remotely balanced.

A few weeks later the Malloy administration begrudgingly admitted that a significant budget deficit had opened up and was expanding quickly.

Initially Malloy announced he series of controversial and major budget cuts to a variety of vital services, including programs that support the most vulnerable in our society.

Republican and Democrats legislators voiced their concerns about the cuts and the governor’s plans, but Malloy pledged to stay the course.

Then, as the magnitude of the fiscal crisis become more apparent, Malloy “invited” Democratic and Republican legislative leaders to sit down and “negotiate” a deal to balance the budget.

After weeks of behind closed door discussions, the bi-partisan negotiations amicably ended on Thursday with no “acceptable budget deal” in place and Malloy followed up by calling the General Assembly to Hartford next Tuesday to vote on a “Democratic budget deal” … a deal that doesn’t yet exist.

On Friday, the members of the House Democratic Caucus met, behind closed doors, but as legislators later told the CT Newsjunkie, “its hard to discuss a deal that doesn’t exist.”

“House Democrats met behind closed doors Friday afternoon to discuss the deficit mitigation efforts, but sources have said it’s hard to discuss a deal that doesn’t exist.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said they’re close to an agreement with Malloy, but they’re not there yet.” – Malloy Calls Lawmakers Into Special Session; Sharkey Says They Are Close To A Deal (CT Newsjunkie)

Or as the CT Mirror put it,

“Full details of the Democrat-sponsored budget bill were not available Friday…” – Democrats’ deficit plan going to the legislature Tuesday (CT Mirror)

The Hartford Courant added that legislators may actually be instructed to vote on some major structural changes to way Connecticut State Government functions, but;

“Sharkey declined to provide any details on long-term structural changes to the budget, saying that during the confidential budget talks, lawmakers agreed to avoid a public discussion on the topic.”The Hartford Courant

What is known is that Connecticut’s 36 Senators and 151 State Representatives will meet and vote on Tuesday on legislation that will undoubtedly include major cuts to some important programs, will probably include some budget gimmicks, will include some tax breaks for selected businesses and may even make some key structural changes to way Connecticut state government deals with the financial challenges it faces.

Forget the notion that there should be an opportunity for public input.  In this case, voters  won’t even have a real opportunity to know what is in the “budget deal,” a deal that could include changes in excess of half a billion dollars over the next two years.

Heck, at the rate they are going, Connecticut’s State legislators won’t even have a chance to know what they are voting on.

But there is one thing that we can be pretty sure of,

The budget plan that will be rushed through on Tuesday will cut programs that benefit middle and working class families, while continuing to coddle the state’s richest residents.

As has been repeated over and over again on this blog and elsewhere,

After federal income tax deductions, our wealthiest families pay an average of 5.5% of their income in state and local taxes, compared to 10.5% for middle-income and 11.0% for poor residents. CT Voices for Children

However Team Malloy/Wyman continue to refuse to require the rich to pay their fair share in taxes.

Malloy himself said he didn’t want to increase the income tax on the wealthy because he didn’t want to “punish success,” even though the wealthy in Connecticut pay a much lower income tax rate in Connecticut than they would in neighboring states and the middle class continues to pay double of what the rich pay in state and local taxes.

The fact is that Connecticut’s Constitution is profoundly clear;

“All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority.” Connecticut Constitution

Yet here we are, in 2015, and major policy decisions are being made without providing the people with an opportunity to even know what changes are being considered, nor will taxpayers have the opportunity to tell lawmakers that they should require that they wealthy pay their fair share before knifing middle and working class families, yet again.

Connecticut’s Democratic legislators would do well to tell Malloy and their leadership – No vote on a “Budget Deal” until the rich are required to pay their fair share and the public gets a chance to know exactly what their government is considering doing to balance the state budget.

Governor Dannel Malloy – On a Mission to destroy Connecticut’s hospitals

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The story behind the story…

September 2015:  Less than two months after signing into law a new state budget that raised taxes and cut spending, a state budget that Governor Dannel Malloy claimed was balanced and would maintain the state’s vital services, came the news that a massive budget deficit was opening up for this fiscal year and would be even bigger in the next fiscal year.

In response, Governor Malloy announced a series of emergency budget cuts, the largest aimed at Connecticut’s hospital.  Malloy proposed cutting reimbursements to hospitals by another $240 million over the two year period.

The state funding is provided to help hospitals pay for the care they provide to poor and uninsured patients, including those who use the federal government’s Medicaid program.

In response, the Connecticut Hospital Association wrote;

“We are outraged that the Governor would slash Medicaid funding that is desperately needed to care for the most vulnerable people in our state.  With nearly one in five Connecticut residents on Medicaid, withdrawing even more funding from the state’s obligation is outrageous.  It puts a tremendous additional strain on healthcare providers, who already provide services with reimbursement that is nowhere near the actual cost of delivering that care.”

“Sweeping cuts to this vital program will hurt patients and their communities, and further cripple our state’s economy.”

December 4, 2015:  When the Connecticut General Assembly meets next week to adopt a budget deficit mitigation plan designed to close the projected state budget deficit – a budget deal that remains secret – it is widely expected that a portion of the cuts to Connecticut’s hospitals will be restored.

So what is the real situation about hospital funding in Connecticut?

The story itself provides an extraordinary glimpse about how Governor Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly have used budget gimmicks to hide tax increases, while making state budgets appear balanced.

In this case the tactic goes back to a new taxing scheme that Governor Dannel Malloy proposed and the legislature adopted in 2012.

At the time, the initiative was designed to maximize the amount of Medicaid funding the State of Connecticut received from the federal government.  As part of the plan, a small amount of the extra funding would be used to provide hospitals with additional state aid while the majority of the new federal funds would be used to balance Connecticut’s General Fund budget.

The Hospital Provider Tax:

In summary, a new hospital tax was added to hospital bills in 2012.  Called a “provider tax,” hospitals were required to tax their revenue which, in turn, provided the State of Connecticut with about $350 million in new taxes.

The state then reimbursed the hospitals the $350 million along with an additional $50 million to help offset the growing cost of treating poor and uninsured patients.

Since the state of Connecticut could then report to the federal government that it had “increased” it’s overall Medicaid spending for the poor and uninsured by $400 million, the federal government increased its reimbursement to Connecticut by $200 million.  [As one of the nation’s wealthier states, Connecticut gets a 50% reimbursement for its Medicaid spending – meaning that for every $100 million Connecticut spends on healthcare for the poor, Washington sends the state a check for $50 million.]

In the first year of the program, the state of Connecticut took the $200 million in additional funding it received from the federal government and used $50 million of that money to pay for the increased aid to hospitals and used the remaining $150 million to balance its General Fund budget.

But by the second year, Malloy and the legislature began to change the program.

Not only did the State of Connecticut start keeping all of the “new” federal reimbursement for itself – to balance the budget – but it also stopped returning an ever larger share of the underlying “tax” money to the hospitals.

In year 2, the hospitals still paid in $350 million to the state of Connecticut, but now they ended up getting back $27 million less than they actually paid in.  Malloy and the legislature grabbed a total of $188 million to balance the budget.

The state’s bait and switch got worse as time went on.

Hospital Tax State Aid to Hospitals Hospital Tax Money used to balance state budget
2012 $349,100,000 $399,500,000 ($50,400,000)
2013 $349,100,000 $322,800,000 $26,300,000
2014 $349,100,000 $214,800,000 $134,300,000
2015 $349,100,000 $80,600,000 $268,500,000
2016 $556,100,000 $60,275,000* $495,825,000

*Data from the Office of Fiscal Analysis via CT Mirror

As the chart (above) reveals, in addition to keeping any and all of the “extra” federal funding that Connecticut collected, the state continued to skim off more and more of the actual hospital provider tax revenue.

Making the situation even worse, since the state was no longer using the hospital tax money to pay for healthcare for the poor, the amount of federal reimbursement dropped.

The CT Mirror explained;

“But that also meant Connecticut’s take from Washington dropped over the same period – despite rising Medicaid reimbursement rates. The state would have collected an extra $330 million in federal money over the past three years had it not scaled back this arrangement with hospitals.”

In then in September 2015, Malloy announced he was grabbing almost all of the remaining money to balance Connecticut’s growing budget deficit.

In September, Malloy announced plans to rescind three-quarters of the money hospitals were expecting to receive back from the tax this year, as well as three-quarters of the funding for a pool of money for six small, independent hospitals.

Instead of maximizing federal funding and doing a better job compensating hospitals for the care they provide to the poor and uninsured, Malloy and the legislature have created a program that doesn’t maximize federal funds and strips hospitals of the money they need.

And now, every week, we hear more and more bad news about staff being laid off, programs being curtailed and small hospitals being gobbled up by big hospitals.

It is fair to say that no governor (and legislature) have done as much damage to Connecticut’s system of comprehensive hospitals…Hospitals that serve as the health and economic anchor for many communities.

For more details and a list of how individual hospitals were cut see under Malloy’s September 2015 proposal see – http://ctmirror.org/2015/09/18/malloy-orders-emergency-budget-cuts-in-response-to-weak-stock-market/

You can read about the issue via the following Wait, What? posts

Malloy must take responsibility for many of the these hospital layoffs

When it comes to our state’s economy, our elected officials are our own worst enemies…

“There are no new taxes” – Governor Dannel Malloy 6/6/13

 

A reader asks their Legislator – Why did you bail on Connecticut’s students, parents and teachers?

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Bill Morrison is an outstanding educator and education advocate.

A regular reader and participant on the Wait, What? blog, Bill recently followed up on the post Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam, to ask his state legislator why they simply turned their back on their constituents when Governor Dannel Malloy vetoed a bill that would have required Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate education experience.

If everyone would take such action, legislators across the state would understand that their subservient behavior to Malloy’s whims was unacceptable.

What follows is Bill’s correspondence with his legislator followed by a breakdown of how legislators voted on the veto override effort.

From Bill Morrison:

I wrote the following letter to my Representative. He was one who failed to even show up.

Dear Representative Ryan,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a registered Democrat, a constituent, and I voted for you. I am also retired Navy, and I am a public high school history and social studies teacher.

That said, I am extremely disappointed that my state legislature allowed itself to be bullied into not overriding Malloy’s veto of the Bill setting minimum professional standards for State Commissioners of Education. As a professional educator, I am heartily sick and tired of Malloy’s targeting us for persecution, demonization, and vilification. I am sick of him undermining our strong efforts, especially in urban schools. And, I am disillusioned that a Democrat governor could so obviously pander to corrupt corporate interests through his immense support of charter schools and high-stakes standardized testing. In short, I am very disgusted by my own Party because of its sycophancy towards Malloy and corporate interests.

Yesterday, the legislature voted not to override Malloy’s veto, with many Democrats not even showing up for the vote. As you are aware, Malloy’s previous Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, was extremely unqualified for the position, and he wreaked havoc in Connecticut’s public schools. His appointment was on obvious conflict of interest because of his affiliation with Achievement First Charter Schools (a corporation that gained financially because of Malloy’s and Pryor’s influence), and he was manifestly not qualified for the position because of his not having any background in education. I had hoped that the legislature would stand up for the Connecticut’s citizens instead of slavishly pandering to Malloy. Instead of doing the right thing for Connecticut’s children, families, and schools, Democrats would not even stand up for a Bill that they had drafted in the first place, a Bill that passed the Senate unanimously with all but five dissenters in the Legislature.

I feel nothing but shame for my Party, and I sincerely hope that Democrats learn from this that they need to return to their roots and support their true constituents not big money.

Bill Morrison

While nearly every Republican legislator voted in favor of students, parents and teachers, the vast majority of Democratic legislators reversed their support or simply failed to show up when the vote to override Malloy’s veto was taken.

Here is more information about how legislators voted;

Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam.

No Democratic legislator voted against the bill during the regular session, but apparently terrified to upset Governor Dannel Malloy or go against their own Democratic leaders, nearly 60% of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives failed to show up for the vote.

Of the 37 Democrats who did attend the veto session, 18 voted to override Governor Malloy’s veto, while an incredible 19 Democrats rolled over and changed their votes in a bizarre subservient gesture to Malloy.

Democrats switching sides to vote in favor of Malloy’s veto included the Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, Majority Leader of the House Joe Aresimowicz, Chairman of the Education Committee, Andrew Fleischmann, Chairman of the Human Services Committee Peter Tercyak, and Windham State Representative  Susan Johnson  The entire list included; 

DEMOCRATS supporting Malloy’s veto
ALTOBELLO
ARCE
ARESIMOWICZ
FLEISCHMANN
GENGA
HENNESSY
JANOWSKI
JOHNSON
LOPES
MCGEE
SANTIAGO, E.
SANTIAGO, H.
SIMMONS
STAFSTROM
TERCYAK
SHARKEY (SPKR)
GENTILE (DEP)
GODFREY (DEP)
SAYERS (DEP)

 

Democrats who failed to even show up at the 2015 Veto Session included

DEMOCRATS FAILED TO SHOW UP
ADAMS X
ARCONTI X
BACKER, T. X
BAKER X
BARAM X
BECKER, B. X
BERGER X
BOUKUS X
BRYCKI X
BUTLER X
CANDELARIA, J. X
CONROY X
CUEVAS X
CURREY X
DARGAN X
DILLON X
ESPOSITO X
FOX X
FRITZ X
GONZALEZ X
GUERRERA X
HAMPTON X
HEWETT X
KINER X
LESSER X
LUXENBERG X
MCCARTHY VAHEY X
MCCRORY X
MEGNA X
MILLER, P. X
MUSHINSKY X
PERONE X
REED X
RILEY X
RITTER X
ROJAS X
ROSARIO X
ROSATI X
ROSE X
SCANLON X
SERRA X
STALLWORTH X
TONG X
URBAN X
VERRENGIA X
WALKER X
ZONI X
MILLER, P.B. (DEP) X
MORRIS (DEP) X
RYAN (DEP) X

 

Democrats who stood up to Malloy and the Democratic Leadership and voted to override Malloy’s veto;

 

DEMOCRATS VOTED TO OVERRIDE MALLOY
ABERCROMBIE Y
ALBIS Y
ALEXANDER Y
COOK Y
D’AGOSTINO Y
DEMICCO Y
HADDAD Y
JUTILA Y
LEMAR Y
MORIN Y
NICASTRO Y
PORTER Y
ROVERO Y
SANCHEZ Y
STEINBERG Y
VARGAS Y
WILLIS Y
ORANGE (DEP) Y

 

Perhaps most telling of all, the following Democratic legislators co-sponsored the legislation requiring Connecticut’s commissioner of education have educational experience and then failed to back the bill when that support was necessary.

Rep. David W. Kiner, 59th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. David Arconti, 109th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Juan R. Candelaria, 95th Dist.              (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Terry B. Adams, 146th Dist.                  (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, 145th Dist.         (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Kim Rose, 118th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Louis P. Esposito, 116th Dist.               (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Eric D. Coleman, 2nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, 17th Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Mae Flexer, 29th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Marilyn Moore, 22nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

If you don’t know who your State Senator or State Representative is go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/

And scroll down for form to use to identify your elected officials

Charter School + Corporate Education Reform Industry continue record-breaking spending on lobbying

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With the 2015 session of the Connecticut General Assembly finally over, the corporate education reform industry is celebrating its victories.

More money for charter schools, while Connecticut’s public schools remain significantly underfunded, tops their list.

In addition, of course, there is the incredible and unethical defeat of the legislation that would have required Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate classroom and education experience.

All together the various corporate funded “education reform” groups dropped another $1.4 million, over the last six months, to promote and lobby on behalf of Governor Dannel Malloy’s anti-teacher, education reform initiatives that included diverting even more scarce public funds to privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.

According to the June reports filed with the Connecticut Office of State Ethics, Charter Schools and Corporate Education Reform groups have spent the following so far this year;

Corporate Education Reform Organization Amount Spent on Lobbying
   
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN) $84,100
   
Achievement First, Inc. (Dacia Toll/Stefan Pryor) $5,700
   
Connecticut Council for Education Reform  (CCER) $40,000
   
North East Charter School Network $109,700
   
Families for Excellent Schools Inc./Coalition for Every Child $1,123,300
Bronx Charter School for Excellence $13,100
   
Other Corporate Education Front Groups include FaithActs for Education, Educators 4 Excellence, Connecticut School Finance Project, Achieve Hartford, Excel Bridgeport…  
TOTAL LOBBYING EXPENDITURES BY CHARTER SCHOOL INDUSTRYJanuary 1, 2015 – May 31, 2015 $1,375,900

 

Not surprising, a number of individuals associated with Malloy have collected huge amounts of money in lobbying and public relations fees to help promote his “education reform” agenda.

Consultants and lobbyists who made money this year from the corporate education reform industry included;

Corporate Education Reform Group Consultants and Lobbyists
Families for Excellent Schools Andrew Doba (Malloy’s former spokesman)
Roy Occhiogroso (Malloy’s chief advisor)
ConnCAN: Gaffney, Bennett & Associates
Connecticut Council for Education Reform: Reynolds Strategy Group
NE Charter School Network: Depino, Nunez & Biggs

 

Since the corporate education reform industry began ramping up their lobbying efforts as part of Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative of 2012, the various charter school advocates and education reform groups have spent a record breaking $8.4 million on behalf of their pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing, anti-teacher agenda.

CT Mirror recently took a look at lobbying expenditures in an article entitled Digging into spending on lobbying in ConnecticutAlthough they noted the massive expenditure by the lead education reform group, Families for Excellent Schools, which is based in New York, they didn’t total all of the funds being spent by the corporate funded education reform advocacy group.

However, no matter how you calculate it, the education reform industry has become the biggest “player” when it comes to lobbying Connecticut State Government.

Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam.

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A lesson on power politics and how many legislators will jettison their constituents in order to hang with the power elite.

Where did your elected representative stand on the veto issue?

A handful of Democrats and a bunch  of Republicans proved that they are willing and able to stand up for the students, parents, teachers and public schools in their district.  The others… nope!

At yesterday’s constitutionally mandated 2015 veto session of the Connecticut General Assembly, 50 of the 87 Democratic members of the Connecticut House of Representatives (57 percent) didn’t even bother to show up show up and vote.

With only 37 of the 87 Democrats in the chamber, the Democratic leaders were able to ensure that there were not enough votes to override Governor Dannel Malloy’s veto of the bill requiring Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education to have appropriate education experience.

As the CT Newsjunkie reported in the article entitled, General Assembly Opts Not to Override Malloy’s Vetoes,

The House needed 101 votes to override Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s veto of a bill that outlined qualifications for a state Education Commissioner, but only 62 lawmakers voted in favor of an override Monday.

At least 21 representatives voted not to override the bill and a whopping 68 representatives did not attend Monday’s constitutional veto session. And even though House Speaker Brendan Sharkey allowed a vote on one of Malloy’s vetoes, the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

Sharkey said there were members of the Democratic caucus who felt strongly about the Education Commissioner bill to turn out Monday and vote to override it. There were 18 Democratic lawmakers who voted in favor of overriding Malloy’s veto.

One of those was Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven. She said she thought the legislation, which specified that education commissioners must have at least five years’ experience as a teacher and three years as an administrator, was “good public policy.”

The bill originally passed the House 138-5 and got unanimous support in the Senate before being squelched by Malloy.

No Democratic legislator voted against the bill during the regular session, but apparently terrified to upset Governor Dannel Malloy or go against their own Democratic leaders, nearly 60% of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives failed to show up for the vote.

Of the 37 Democrats who did attend the veto session, 18 voted to override Governor Malloy’s veto, while an incredible 19 Democrats rolled over and changed their votes in a bizarre subservient gesture to Malloy.

Democrats switching sides to vote in favor of Malloy’s veto included the Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, Majority Leader of the House Joe Aresimowicz, Chairman of the Education Committee, Andrew Fleischmann, Chairman of the Human Services Committee Peter Tercyak, and Windham State Representative  Susan Johnson  The entire list included;

DEMOCRATS supporting Malloy’s veto
ALTOBELLO
ARCE
ARESIMOWICZ
FLEISCHMANN
GENGA
HENNESSY
JANOWSKI
JOHNSON
LOPES
MCGEE
SANTIAGO, E.
SANTIAGO, H.
SIMMONS
STAFSTROM
TERCYAK
SHARKEY (SPKR)
GENTILE (DEP)
GODFREY (DEP)
SAYERS (DEP)

 

Democrats who failed to even show up at the 2015 Veto Session included

DEMOCRATS FAILED TO SHOW UP
ADAMS X
ARCONTI X
BACKER, T. X
BAKER X
BARAM X
BECKER, B. X
BERGER X
BOUKUS X
BRYCKI X
BUTLER X
CANDELARIA, J. X
CONROY X
CUEVAS X
CURREY X
DARGAN X
DILLON X
ESPOSITO X
FOX X
FRITZ X
GONZALEZ X
GUERRERA X
HAMPTON X
HEWETT X
KINER X
LESSER X
LUXENBERG X
MCCARTHY VAHEY X
MCCRORY X
MEGNA X
MILLER, P. X
MUSHINSKY X
PERONE X
REED X
RILEY X
RITTER X
ROJAS X
ROSARIO X
ROSATI X
ROSE X
SCANLON X
SERRA X
STALLWORTH X
TONG X
URBAN X
VERRENGIA X
WALKER X
ZONI X
MILLER, P.B. (DEP) X
MORRIS (DEP) X
RYAN (DEP) X

 

Democrats who stood up to Malloy and the Democratic Leadership and voted to override Malloy’s veto;

 

DEMOCRATS VOTED TO OVERRIDE MALLOY
ABERCROMBIE Y
ALBIS Y
ALEXANDER Y
COOK Y
D’AGOSTINO Y
DEMICCO Y
HADDAD Y
JUTILA Y
LEMAR Y
MORIN Y
NICASTRO Y
PORTER Y
ROVERO Y
SANCHEZ Y
STEINBERG Y
VARGAS Y
WILLIS Y
ORANGE (DEP) Y

 

Perhaps most telling of all, the following Democratic legislators co-sponsored the legislation requiring Connecticut’s commissioner of education have educational experience and then failed to back the bill when that support was necessary.

Rep. David W. Kiner, 59th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. David Arconti, 109th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Juan R. Candelaria, 95th Dist.              (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Terry B. Adams, 146th Dist.                  (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, 145th Dist.         (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Kim Rose, 118th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Louis P. Esposito, 116th Dist.               (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Eric D. Coleman, 2nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, 17th Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Mae Flexer, 29th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Marilyn Moore, 22nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

If you don’t know who your State Senator or State Representative is go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/  and scroll down

By Comparison, 45 of the 64 (70 percent) of the Republicans were present at the Veto Session and all but two voted to override the Governor’s veto.

In the end, of the 62 members of the House of Representatives who were willing to stand up to Malloy, 70 percent were Republicans.

As CT Newsjunkie reported, in what may have been the most absurd moment of the entire 2015 legislative session, West Hartford Democrat and Chairman of the Education Committee Andrew Fleishmann changed his position in order to vote with Malloy explaining,

“[T]here was interest from the governor’s office to address the issue of Education Commissioner qualifications in the future. He said there will be an ongoing dialogue and it’s likely the bill will come up again next year.

“The administration is always open to discussion,” Fleischmann said.

The Republican legislators were clear, not only on the substance of the issue, but on the even more important procedure in which the Democrats ducked their responsibility to their constituents and the people of Connecticut.

The Republican leader of the State Senate, Len Fasano stated,

“This is politics over policy. “The legislature has spoken. The governor has every right to veto it, but when the majority party follows the politics and not the policy that makes this building very scary to me.”

Proving the accuracy of Fasano’s statement, the State Senate met after the House of Representatives had adjourned and voted 18-12, along party lines, not to take up any of Malloy’s nine vetoes.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff went so far as to blame the entire situation on the Republicans saying that the veto session was “complete theater by the Republicans.”

Duff added that the Republicans, “have been on a ‘bad news tour’ for the past month and have taken ‘rooting for failure to a new level.’”

Quite a commentary when a Democratic leader of the Connecticut State Senate claims that a demand that the Legislative Branch fulfill its constitutional duty is nothing but “theater by the Republicans.”

If Connecticut’s 2015 veto session proved anything, it is that in Hartford, as in Washington, far too many politicians have lost their way….forgetting that they serve the people of their district and not those who already have way too much power.

They would all do well to remember the lines of Bob Dylan’s song, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

You can read the full story in the CTNewsjunkie at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/general_assembly_doesnt_override_malloy/

More coverage can also be found in the CT Mirror at: http://ctmirror.org/2015/07/20/malloy-vetoes-stand-but-house-gop-forces-an-override-debate/

CT Republicans step up for students, parents and teachers as Democrats run away and hide

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Watching the way Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy has sought to undermine public education while denigrating, insulting and bullying public school teachers, one is left with the inevitable conclusion that Connecticut’s chief elected official is driven by some personal problem he has with educators.

But seeing the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly roll-over in support of Malloy’s corporate education reform initiatives and flee from the Democratic Party’s historic role as advocates for teachers, the teaching profession and public education suggests that the legislators elected under the Democratic Party Banner simply don’t feel a sense of appreciation, duty or obligation to support teachers or the students, parents and public schools of their districts.

The Decision to forgo even holding a vote on Governor Malloy’s veto of a bill to require Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate educational experience has become a prime example of the Democratic Party’s apparent unwillingness to actually stand up and be counted on behalf of public education.

Of the 108 Democrat legislators in the Connecticut General Assembly, not one voted against the bill requiring the commissioner of education to have appropriate educational experience, but these same Democrats have now refused to even hold a vote on whether to sustain or override Malloy’s veto.

Political insiders dismiss the issue as nothing more than the realities associated with power politics.  While such politics is hardly new to Connecticut or the country, the underlying problem cannot be explained away so easily.

See: Malloy, Executive Power and the Politics of Appeasement (Wait, What? 7/18/15)

The harsh reality is that Governor Malloy, along with a variety of other Democratic leaders including Governor Cuomo of New York, Mayor Emanuel of Chicago and President Obama, have been engaged in an unprecedented assault on public education.

The utter failure of Democratic legislators, at the federal and state level, to stand up to that assault reflects a problem that has become so serious that proponents of public education are being forced to come to grips with the fact that the Democratic Party appears to be simply walking away from what may very well be the single most important issue in a democratic, egalitarian society.

While many Republicans across the country have acted no better, the Republican Party in Connecticut has taken an increasingly strong stand on behalf of public education.

While some would say their gesture is primarily political, the uncomfortable truth is that it is the Democrats who have repeatedly shown voters that politics trumps policy when it comes to these critically important education issues.

While Connecticut’s Democratic legislators have refused to even vote on whether to override Malloy’s veto, the response from Republican leaders have been clear, concise and absolutely on the side of students, parents, teachers and the value of public education to our future.

Democratic legislators may be gripped by fear when it comes potentially “embarrassing” Governor Malloy by overriding his veto, but people in the real world would rather see Connecticut’s Legislature Branch overcome their self-induced level of terror and actually perform their Constitutional responsibility.

As the Bristol Press put it in editorial this weekend entitled, OUR VIEW: Legislators must remember who it is they represent;

On Monday, the General Assembly will come together in special session, one that is technically is required, to decide whether members want to override any of the governor’s vetoes from the 2015 regular session.

But members won’t have the opportunity to restore any of the bills Gov. Dannel P. Malloy rejected, thanks to a decision by the Democratic leadership in the Legislature.

“The general consensus among our members, and in light of some of the governor’s concerns, is that these issues would be best re-looked at during the next regular session. Therefore we will not be scheduling any override votes,” House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, wrote Friday.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, were not happy to hear the news.

“Failing to challenge the governor on his vetoes is putting politics before policy,” they said in a statement. “The legislature has overridden past governors, including Rell and Weicker. But Democrat lawmakers have never overridden a single Malloy veto ever. Simply accepting the governor’s vetoes is failing to represent and protect our constituents. We have a constitutional duty to the public to reassess these bills.”

They continued, “this is not a decision for only the majority leaders to make. Under our constitution it is up to the legislative body’s majority vote to consider an override of a governor’s veto. As such, there should be an opportunity for the assembly as a whole to voice its opinion. To gavel in and out without any reconsideration and without hearing input from all lawmakers violates our constitutional duty and therefore our obligations as elected representatives.”

We agree. Whatever their party, our elected representatives in the House and Senate are supposed to be the people’s voice at the Capitol. We understand that the leadership doesn’t want to put the rank and file in a position where they must choose between voting against the head of their party or against their constituents — if that’s what their conscience and the voters request — but  failing to do so leaves the people of Connecticut without representation. It also increases the arbitrary power of the governor’s office, suggesting that, even if a majority of the members of the Legislature disagree with him — and we have no reason to believe that they do — he shouldn’t or can’t be challenged.

Our view: Let the democratic process — small D — unfold!

Yes, the message to Democrats in Hartford is “let the democratic process – small D – unfold!”

But for those who belong to the Democratic Party or who tend to vote for the Democratic candidates, a parallel question is whether the Democrats’ continuing failure to stand up for public education invalidates their right to serve as the majority party in Connecticut.

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