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

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.

Malloy, Executive Power and the Politics of Appeasement

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In preparation for the Connecticut General Assembly’s 2015 constitutionally required veto session, Democratic legislative leaders announced yesterday that no votes would be taken on whether to sustain or override the nine bills vetoed by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy during this year’s legislative session.

The most noteworthy of the bills that the Democrats are unwilling to bring up for a vote is PA 15-176, which was House Bill 6977, AN ACT ESTABLISHING QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.

The legislation requires that any person serving as Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education have an appropriate education degree and teaching experience.

The legislation arose in response to Governor Malloy’s decision to name Stefan Pryor, a charter school founder and corporate education reform industry advocate, to be his first commissioner of education, despite the fact that Pryor had no educational experience.

Stefan Pryor’s performance as Malloy’s Education Commissioner led both Democrats and Republicans to call for legislation requiring future leaders of the state department of education to have the requisite education experience.

The General Assembly’s Education Committee held a public hearing on House Bill #6977 and went on to pass the legislation by a vote of 32 – 0.

At no time did Malloy or his administration testify against the bill or publicly announce any opposition to the concept.

The bill went to pass the Connecticut State Senate by a vote of 36 – 0 and the Connecticut House of Representatives by a vote of 138-5.

In the end, only one Democratic legislator voted against the bill.

With its passage, HB6977 become Connecticut Public Act 15-176.

But despite the overwhelming level of support displayed for the bill by the Connecticut General Assembly, Governor Malloy vetoed the legislation.

And now, in a disturbing and rather pathetic effort to appease Governor Malloy, the Democratic leadership in the Senate and House has announced that, after speaking with the Democratic members of the two chambers, there will be no vote to override or sustain Governor Malloy’s veto.

Instead, the bill will simply die.

To read about the bill go to: Malloy vetoes bill requiring that education commissioner have education experience, for news coverage about the decision not to even vote on Malloy’s veto see: CT Dems shameful display of cowardice on Malloy’s Education Veto (updated) and news coverage  at General Assembly Won’t Override Malloy’s Vetoes (CT Newsjunkie),   Democrats will not attempt to override Malloy vetoes (CT Mirror), No Veto Overrides Planned By Legislature (Hartford Courant)

The Democratic legislators’ lame and unsettling decision to  not even allow a vote on whether to override Malloy’s veto of AN ACT ESTABLISHING QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION (PA 15-176) came as a shock to Connecticut’s two teacher unions (the CEA and AFT-CT) who claimed ownership of the bill and used its passage as some strange indicator that their endorsement of Malloy’s re-election effort was acceptable because he was now being taken to the “wood shed” for his historic abuse of teachers and the teaching profession.

But the underlying issue isn’t about Malloy vs. the teacher unions or about whether Dannel Malloy’s temper and thin skin led him to veto a bill, out of the blue, despite its nearly unanimous support.

The issue really isn’t even about whether state government should or should not require that the commissioner of education have appropriate teaching experience.

The fundamental issue at stake is the result of the decision by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly to prevent a vote on whether to override Malloy’s veto.

The decision by the legislative branch to walk away from its duty to check and balance the executive branch reflects the growing politics of appeasement that has enveloped our political system and it is a situation that should be of concern to everyone across the political spectrum.

The foundation of the United States’ system of government is the inclusion of the system of checks and balances to guard against unwarranted authority.  It is an inherent part of both the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Connecticut.

As James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 47,

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

(The Federalist No. 47: The Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Among Its Different Parts January 30, 1788)

In a 2006 Washington Monthly article on the danger of executive power, Bruce Fein wrote about Madison’s concept explaining,

The most conservative principle of the Founding Fathers was distrust of unchecked power. Centuries of experience substantiated that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Men are not angels. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition to avert abuses or tyranny. The Constitution embraced a separation of powers to keep the legislative, executive, and judicial branches in equilibrium. As Edward Gibbon wrote in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: ‘The principles of a free constitution are irrevocably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.'”

“The principles of a free constitution are irrevocably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.”

Governor Malloy is wrong to have vetoed the bill requiring that the person responsible for running the state department of education have educational experience.

But the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly have done a far greater disservice by refusing to even vote on Malloy’s veto.  Their unwarranted decision to appease Malloy means that they have handed their constitutionally mandated legislative authority to the executive branch of government.

And that is something every Connecticut citizens should be very concerned about.

CT Dems shameful display of cowardice on Malloy’s Education Veto (updated)

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In a throw your people under the bus moment, Democratic Legislative leaders are now apparently claiming that it was actually the Democratic legislators themselves, and not the leadership, that lacked the courage to vote on sustaining or overriding any of Governor Malloy’s 2015 vetoes, including the bill to require that Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education should have some teaching and classroom experience.

A CT Newsjunkie article entitled General Assembly Won’t Override Malloy’s Vetoes explains;

Despite pressure from one of the teacher unions, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey announced Friday that there wasn’t enough support to override any of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s nine vetoes.

“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,” Sharkey said in a statement.

A spokesman for the Senate Democratic caucus said based on feedback from their members they also agreed not to attempt to override any of the governor’s vetoes.

Other coverage includes the CTMirror who reported Democrats will not attempt to override Malloy vetoes.

Majority Democrats in the General Assembly will not try to override any of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s vetoes when they meet in special session Monday, House and Senate Democratic leadership announced Friday morning.

And the Hartford Courant’s No Veto Overrides Planned By Legislature, in which they add;

Finding no consensus to take action, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Friday that there will be no overrides of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s nine vetoes in the legislative session.

Some legislators and advocates had been pushing for overrides on some education bills, but the Democrat-controlled legislature has not overridden a veto since Malloy, a Democrat, took office in January 2011.

Republicans said Friday that they will show up at the constitutionally required veto session Monday prepared to overturn Malloy’s decisions.

Mark the date; it will be a moment to remember!

A date, thanks to the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly, when legislators refused to fulfill their fundamental duty to represent the citizens of Connecticut.

Connecticut has long been called the Constitution State due to its historic commitment to the value and importance of a constitutional democracy and the unique role Connecticut’s citizens have played in the development of our representative form of government.

But the message from Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly is that there is no place for our representative democracy when it comes to the eight bills that Governor Malloy vetoed earlier this month.

In an extraordinary show of submissive, subservient, even sycophantic behavior, Democratic leaders announced that they would not allow any vote to take place on whether to override or sustain Governor Malloy’s vetoes.

As a result of their pronouncement, Connecticut’s 36 Senators and 151 State Representatives will have no opportunity to represent their constituents.

While the Connecticut constitution provides that every voter has a State Senator and a State Representative to be their eyes, ears and voice when it comes to adopting the laws that apply to Connecticut’s citizens, the stark and insulting truth is that Connecticut’s legislative branch of government is refusing to do its job, leaving Connecticut’s voters voiceless.

A primary reason to hold a veto session was to override Governor Malloy’s arrogant veto of a bill requiring Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education to have appropriate classroom experience.

See: Malloy vetoes bill requiring that education commissioner have education experience

Dannel shows his true stripes yet again…

The CT Newsjunkie headline reads- Union Leader ‘Stunned’ By Malloy Veto of Standards For Education Commish while the CT Mirror exclaims Malloy vetoes qualifications for education commissioner

The leaders of Connecticut’s teacher unions are stunned because the Right Honorable Governor Dannel P. Malloy decided to veto legislation that would have required that the state education commissioners have “a strong classroom background, something his first education commissioner lacked.”

The legislation passed the Education Committee 32 to 0

It passed the State Senate 36 – 0

And it passed the Connecticut House of Representatives  138-5

Only one Democratic legislator voted against the bill in the House.

But Dannel Malloy vetoed it anyway.

And now the Connecticut Legislature won’t even debate or vote on whether to override Malloy’s veto.

But even this important opportunity to adopt good public policies pales in comparison to the bigger, far more profound statement that Democrats have announced by refusing to even allow the General Assembly to take up any of the bills vetoed by Malloy.

There is something very, very wrong with the way Connecticut government is functioning.

No Victory on “CT Transportation Initiative” despite claims

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The 2015 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly is over and as you listen to Connecticut politicians claiming victory on a new transportation initiative – face it – they are quite simply…lying!

The lack of the promised transportation funding “Lockbox” and the successful effort to by-pass Connecticut’s competitive bidding laws have become the pillars of Governor Dannel Malloy’s purported “transportation initiative.”

Although it failed to garner any media attention, included in the massive 686-page “budget implementation” bill just passed the legislature were sections rolling back an important aspect of Connecticut’s competitive bidding laws for transportation projects.

As noted in yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled, WARNING! “Budget Implementation Bill” includes language undoing post-Rowland competitive bidding reforms, the Malloy administration and Democratic legislative leaders embedded language into the “budget implementation” bill that allows the Malloy administration to side-step competitive bidding requirements on what will likely be the largest transportation projects the agency undertakes.

Equally astonishing is that while the legislature approved Malloy’s request for billions of dollars in transportation bonding, the General Assembly failed to ensure that the taxes intended to pay for the transportation program will actually be spent on the transportation program.

As the CT Mirror Reports,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy got the $2.8 billion in bonding he needs to launch his transportation overhaul initiative — but not the legal ‘lockbox’ he insisted upon to protect it.

The transportation safeguards lawmakers approved Monday lack a mandated pledge to bondholders — something Malloy had said was essential to ensure dollars earmarked for transportation are spent for that purpose.

Instead legislators merely wrote in statute that transportation funds can’t be diverted for other purposes. For more than a decade, legislators and governors have assigned resources to transportation with one law, and then redirected them for other purposes with another law.

The CT Mirror goes on to remind readers that Malloy promised that he would VETO any transportation funding bill that did not include a “Lockbox” to protect taxpayer investment in transportation improvements.

In his State of the State Address in January, the governor said the state must pledge in its transportation bond covenant — effectively the control between the state and its investors — not to divert transportation funds.

“No gimmicks, no diversion,” the governor said. “And we should include a covenant with bondholders and all people of Connecticut to ensure that money set aside for transportation projects is only used for that purpose.”

Malloy added that until the legislature passed legislation with this safeguard, “I will veto any attempt to levy additional sources of new revenue for transportation.”

By way of response, the governor’s spokesperson dismissed Malloy’s earlier rhetoric about the need for a “Lockbox” noting,

“Today’s vote is the first step towards the future of a best-in-class transportation system,” Malloy spokesman Devon Puglia said. “This issue is too important — for jobs, for businesses, and for families. We would like to thank the legislature for sharing the governor’s vision to transform our infrastructure.  This one vote will have ramifications that will benefit generations of residents.”

You can read more about Malloy’s “Transportation Victory” at:

CT Mirror: http://ctmirror.org/2015/06/29/senate-approves-initial-bonding-for-malloys-transportation-overhaul/

CT Newsjunkie:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/language_implementing_budget_includes_dozens_of_other_legislative_concepts/

Courant: http://www.courant.com/politics/capitol-watch/hc-senate-debating-budget-implementer-20150629-story.html#page=1

CT’s Legislative Democrats set to make a bad budget worse

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Governor Dannel Malloy must have been singing the children’s song “Roll Over, Roll Over,” because it appears that Democrats in the Connecticut State Senate and House of Representatives will return to Hartford today to “fix” a bad state budget by making it worse.

As the CT Mirror reported on Friday,

“The House and Senate will return Monday at 10 a.m. for what the leaders hope will be a one-day special session to pass budget revisions and implementer bills, a bond package and two criminal justice measures.”

In an effort to appease big business, the changes to the budget include another $25 million in health care cuts to Connecticut’s poorest residents and a $25 million in cuts from an “undisclosed list” of government services and programs.

Among the most bizarre maneuvers is an effort to screw state employees by predetermining the outcome of next year’s state contract negotiations, unless of course, it is just a ruse to make it look like a cut when, in fact, they intend to put the money back in to the budget in the 2017.

As CT Mirror explained,

“House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said the bill also would reduce salary reserve funding in the second year of the biennium, a nudge to the administration to obtain concessions in coming contract negotiations.

“We are setting a direction to the governor as to what we’d like to see in terms of concessions, so to speak, in year two when he negotiates those contracts,” Sharkey said.”

According to the CT Mirror,

“With these changes, overall tax hikes in the new, two-year budget would drop from $1.5 billion to just over $1.3 billion. The new budget also cancels close to $500 million in previously approved tax cuts that were supposed to be implemented in the coming biennium.”

Under both the “old” and “new” budget plan, the state will continue to implement record budget cuts to a variety of vital state programs and services.

In addition, although the legislature’s original tax plan added a minor bump in the income tax rate for the super-rich; both the original and revised versions of the state budget continue Governor Malloy’s long-standing commitment to coddle Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers by refusing to require them to pay their fair share in income taxes.

On another front, the “new” state budget continues to send the vast majority of the new money for nursing home care to those facilities that are unionized rather than the long-standing approach which treated residents of long-term care facilities the same – regardless of whether they are living in unionized or non-unionized nursing homes.

The decision to favor the unionized facilities raises serious legal issues which are being reported by CT Newsjunkie in an article entitled, Association Says Nursing Home Allocation Violates Federal Law.

The state’s largest association of skilled nursing facilities says the way lawmakers are planning to distribute funds to nursing homes violates federal law.

The Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities warned Sunday night in a statement that distributing $9 million to raise wages in 60 unionized nursing homes and only $4 million to 170 non-unionized skilled nursing facilities is “blatantly unfair and discriminatory to the non-union workers who do the exact same work as the union workers with the same Connecticut taxpayer money.”

Matthew Barrett, executive vice president of the association, said nursing homes in Connecticut are overwhelmingly non-union with only 30 percent associated with organized labor.

That means non-union workers would see overall wages increase 0.75 percent, while unionized nursing homes would receive a 5.5 percent increase. According to Barrett this amounts to a 10 cent raise for non-union workers, and an 80 cent raise for union workers — eight times the increase non-union workers would receive.

Barrett warned that if lawmakers approve the allocation they are putting at risk federal matching funds for $1.2 billion in Medicaid nursing home expenditures.

Legislative leaders Friday said they put an additional $1 million into the budget for non-union homes, bringing the wage increase funding for those homes up to $4 million.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Friday that they were giving an additional $1 million to the non-union homes to “provide a little bit more equity.”

[…]

Barrett said there’s well-established case law that doesn’t allow for this type of inequity to exist between union and non-union homes.

For more about the “new” state budget read;

CT Mirror at http://ctmirror.org/2015/06/26/democrats-whittle-down-future-town-aid-to-cut-business-taxes-now/ and CT Newsjunkie at http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/democrats_roll_back_raises_for_state_employees_increase_money_for_hospitals/

Charter School Industry money persuades legislators to give them your tax dollars

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The Connecticut General Assembly is returning to Hartford for a special session to pass the statutory language needed to implement the state budget that the Democratic controlled legislature passed earlier this month.

While legislators are going into special session, cities and towns across Connecticut are cutting local public school programs as a result of the inadequate education funding that is part of the state budget that was agreed upon in a deal between Governor Dannel Malloy and Democratic legislators earlier this month.

But while the people reel from the impact of the major tax increases and deep spending cuts to vital services that are part of the new budget, there is one group that is overjoyed with the state budget that is receiving so much criticism from across the political spectrum.

Thanks to their record spending on lobbyists and lobbying, Connecticut’s charter school industry is sitting pretty thanks to the decision by Malloy and the Democrats to give the privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools record amounts of public funds.

Having created a myriad of front groups with names like Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child; North East Charter School Network; Connecticut Council for Education Reform; Achievement First, Inc., Bronx Charter School of Excellence, Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc., Educators 4 Excellence and FaithActs for Education, charter school owners and the corporate executives behind the education reform industry have poured another $1 million into their successful campaign to persuade legislators to give private charter school companies even more public funds while leaving their own local schools high and dry and twisting in the wind.

In just the first 150 days of the 2015 session of the Connecticut General Assembly, the charter schools and their front groups spent more than $1,149,800.70 to “persuade” legislators to fund their corporate entities rather than our public schools.

The Charter School and Corporate Education Reform groups involved in the lobbying include;

Corporate Education Reform Organization Amount Spent on Lobbying
   
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN) $69,894.80
   
Achievement First, Inc. (Dacia Toll/Stefan Pryor) $4,489.01
   
Connecticut Council for Education Reform  (CCER) $39,959.00
   
North East Charter School Network $85,608.24
   
Families for Excellent Schools Inc./Coalition for Every Child $938,923.47
   
Bronx Charter School for Excellence $10,936.27
   
TOTAL LOBBYING EXPENDITURES BY CHARTER SCHOOL INDUSTRY

January 1, 2015 – May 31, 2015

$1,149,800.70

 

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 $7.9 million on behalf of their pro-charter school, pro-common core, anti-teacher agenda.

To help grease their success, the various charter school advocacy groups has even spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire Governor Malloy’s chief advisor and his former press secretary.

During the recent legislative session, Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child ran television ads calling upon Connecticut’s elected officials to divert even more scarce taxpayer funds to charter schools.  The group was also the lead sponsored of a pro-charter school rally in which they bussed in parents and students from charter schools as far away as New York City and Boston.

Among the more curious expenditures listed in the reports filed this month with the State Ethics Commission by Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child was a payment of just over $2,000 to the charter school management company Achievement First, Inc.

However, with Achievement First Inc. and other charter school companies claiming that they don’t have to abide by Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act because they are private entities, there is no way to know what exactly the charter school operator is doing with its public funds or other funds that they are collecting.

A bill expanding the reach of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law to ensure greater transparency when it comes to the charter school companies was water-downed during the last days of the legislative session as a result of intense lobbying by the charter school industry.

Dacia Toll, the Co-CEO of Achievement First Inc. testified that requiring charter school operators to adhere to Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act would be a unfair burden.

As education advocate and commentator Sarah Darer Littman explained in a CT Newsjunkie column entitled, Keep An Eye Out for Mischief in Implementer When It Comes to Transparency, the charter school industry is simply unwilling to open its books for public inspection despite the fact that it receives well over $100 million a year in public funds from Connecticut’s taxpayers.

Sarah Darer Littman wrote,

“In her testimony to the Education Committee opposing SB 1096 in March, Achievement First President Dacia Toll complained that “it would be incredibly burdensome to CMOs, as FOIA compliance would significantly distract, undermine, and obstruct non-profit CMO resources and manpower from its most important work: providing high-quality support to charter schools, students and staff.”

In other words, Ms. Toll is more than happy to take taxpayer money, but would find it “incredibly burdensome” to comply with FOIA requests that come with being held accountable for it.

For more about the charter school industry’s successful effort to meaningful prevent transparency go to: Charter School Operators – Want taxpayer funds – just don’t want to explain how they spend it.

“What in the world are they doing in Hartford?”

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Those were the simple, but rather profound, words of one Republican legislator as Connecticut’s House of Representatives and State Senate jammed through a new state budget as it careened toward its midnight deadline yesterday.

Now the General Assembly is headed for a special session to deal with some of the legislation that it failed to address.

Later this morning, Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman will hold a press conference to congratulate themselves and applaud the Democratic legislators who voted for the budget package that Malloy negotiated with the General Assembly’s Democratic Leaders this week.

Raising nearly $2 billion in tax revenue over the next two years, with the middle class taking a particularly heavy hit, the new state budget makes massive cuts to a number of vitally important health care and social service programs aimed at helping Connecticut’s poorest families and those with developmental disabilities, mental health issues or other significant life challenges. The cuts include one that will mean more than 20,000 poor parents will lose their health care coverage.  [Not to worry says the government, they can buy health insurance]

While failing to properly fund Connecticut’s public schools, leading charter school industry advocate Governor Dannel Malloy was able to “persuade” the Democratic legislators to divert scarce public funds so that his allies can open up two more privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.

And as if to highlight Malloy’s dedication to screwing Connecticut’s public school students, parents and teachers, not only does the new state budget add millions of dollars more for charter schools, it actually cuts the amount of the money that towns are given to transport students.  Local school districts are required to pay for the transportation costs of charter school students and are also required to pay for any special education services that charter school students need.

The Democrat’s new budget also makes a huge cut to the Board of Regents which includes the Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges.  Even after the state universities and community colleges institute another significant tuition increase, the schools will be facing a $22 million budget deficit in the coming year, a hole that will mean reduced programs and staff at Connecticut’s largest system of public higher education.

As if to make a point, at the same time, the new budget actually reduces the amount of student financial aid available for needy Connecticut students who want to get a college education.

And in one of the more telling provisions of the state budget, money to help increase the lowest paid workers in nursing homes doesn’t go to all nursing homes but is funneled almost exclusively to homes that are represented by unions.

Meanwhile, on the tax side, long gone is Malloy’s “read my lips” promise that, if re-elected, he would not raise taxes.

The new state budget starts by dropping the property tax credit for middle income families from $300 to $200 and then the hits keep on coming for those in the shrinking middle class.

By comparison, Malloy’s pledge to coddle the rich remains pretty much intact.  The new budget increases the income tax rate for the state’s super rich from 6.7 percent to 6.9 percent, ensuring that they will be paying far less in state and local taxes than they would if they were living in New York, New Jersey or Massachusetts.

The Governor and legislative leaders are also applauding their effort to make transportation a key priority by claiming that nearly $500 million of the $2 billion in new tax revenue will go into a “lock box” for transportation.  The only thing they conveniently overlook is that this same budget withholds $371 million in general fund resources that have been going to pay for transportation projects.  The net effect is that the transportation fund far short of what it needs.

And as noted in yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled “The Train Wreck of the Democrats State Budget,”one of the most obnoxious and disgusting provisions of the new state budget is that it steals, yet again, the money that has been going into the state’s School Bus Seat Belt Account – an account that was set up after a tragic fatal school bus accident on I-84 five years ago.  Twice now Governor Malloy has drained the fund in order to use the dedicated money to reduce state budget deficits.  Despite the existence of the account, and its dedicated funding stream, the School Bus Seat Belt Account has yet to pay for school bus seat belts.

Of course, none of these facts needn’t get in the way of good political rhetoric.

Speaking about the glory of the budget, the Senate President called it one of the best in his 35 years in the general assembly.

And from “no new taxes” Malloy came what may be the quote of the year;

“A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today. This agreement will help Connecticut now and in the long-run — it helps transform our transportation infrastructure as we aim for a best-in-class system. It supports our schools, supports the middle class, and supports vital programs for those who need it most. Most importantly, it helps us build a Connecticut for the long-term, making our state an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family,”

You can read more about the budget via the following links:

Budget Bill Goes Down to the Wire in State Senate (CT Newsjunkie)

Senate Dems threaten ‘nuclear option’ to pass budget, $2B tax hike (CT Mirror)

Senate, House Approve $40 Billion Budget; Gov Set To Sign It (Courant)

 

The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget.

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[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.  Another five Republican and three Democratic state representatives simply failed to vote, some for reasons yet to be revealed.

Highlights include the fact that the infamous Steve Perry, with the convicted felon on his governing board gets the public money he wants to open his privately owned charter school, as does the Bronx charter school which is coming to save Stamford’s public education system.

Of course, the “biggest” news is on the overall tax and spending issue.

Throughout the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, candidate Dan Malloy promised, committed and swore that that we could all read his lips and count on the truth that, if elected, he would not raise taxes or cut vital services.

Now, safely tucked into his second term in office, Malloy has negotiated and will sign a budget that includes nearly two billion in new (tax) revenue and makes massive cuts to human services, education and other critically important services.

The State Senate is expected to pass the budget bill before the legislature’s midnight deadline is reached tonight.

You can read more about the new state budget via one of the following article links; House adopts controversial state budget and House Democrats Pull An All-Nighter to Push Their Budget Through and House Passes Two-Year, $40 Billion Budget.

However, for those who slow down to look at a terrible car wreck, it is worth remembering that while most legislators, reporters and onlookers focus on the big numbers listed in the budget, one can usually find far more interesting developments at the “back” of the budget.

This year’s budget includes 223 Sections.  Most contain the legislative language needed to “implement” the changes needed to raise and spend the money contained in the budget but some…

Alas most legislators never take the time to read through all the words, numbers and verbiage.

For that matter, neither do most reporters.

Initial “tidbits” of note in the document that is presently being rushed through the legislature include changes that allow liquor stores to be open until 10pm and a change in the law that limits the number of liquor stores an individual may own.  (It was three but someone must have wanted more because the new number is five.)

Better still is Sec. 173 of House Bill 7061 (The Budget Bill)

The section reads, “Not later than June 30, 2016, the Comptroller may designate up to $25,000,000 of the resources of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, to be accounted for as revenue of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.

In English this seems to say that some point in the next fiscal real (FY16), Connecticut’s State Comptroller will take out a magic wand and pronounce that 25 million dollars in state revenue that has come in during Fiscal Year 2016 is really, truly, actually revenue that will come in during Fiscal Year 2017.

Why would Governor Malloy and the Democratic legislators require that revenue that came in one year be declared revenue in a different year?

The simplified answer is that it is way to balance the budget in FY17 without having to deal with some of the uncomfortable limitations of the state’s screwed up spending cap.  Rather than simply deal with the spending cap issues, one way to sneak past the problem is to say revenue from one year is actually revenue in another.

But if that one doesn’t leave you shaking your head…

Try this one…

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.

If you don’t remember the “school seat belt issue” just read the following Wait, What? posts.

Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority? (Wait, What? 12/20/12) and School Bus Seat Belt Fund: A prime example of Connecticut’s budget gimmickry  (Wait,What? 1/22/14)

Here is the text from the 2012 post

Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority?   Aka:  No that was then, this is now…

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

On May 1 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.  The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated the higher fee would raise about $2.1 million a year.

Fast forward two and a half years…and the fund now has $4.7 million.

Yesterday, the Legislature’s deficit mitigation bill including 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.

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