Governor Malloy issued a call for a Special Session of the Connecticut General Assembly to deal with the growing state deficit.
That Session is taking place today.
The State Senate and State House or Representatives convened at 10:00 am and then recessed until 4:30 pm so that elected officials could attend funerals and memorial services resulting from the Newtown Elementary School Massacre.
When they reconvene at 4:30 pm, a joint session of the Legislature will be held so Governor Malloy and Legislators can hold their own memorial service in honor of those who lost their lives in Newtown.
And then the legislature is scheduled to debate and vote on a plan to resolve Connecticut’s $415 million budget deficit.
Governor Malloy has already made $123 million in cuts, mostly to social services and Connecticut’s public colleges and universities. The cuts to UConn, Connecticut State University and the Community Colleges come on top of Malloy’s previous cuts to our public institutions of higher education, which were already the deepest in Connecticut history.
As the Hartford Courant noted in today’s edition,” Legislative leaders declined Tuesday to discuss the specifics of the budget deal, which was hammered out in a series of meetings last week
However, as the CTMirror is reporting, the non-partisan Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, located at the University of Connecticut, has issues a report today noting that balancing the state budget exclusively with spending cuts could be the final straw that breaks Connecticut’s economic back, pushing it back into recession.
In a report about next year’s $1.2 billion deficit, the economists said that an “all-cut” budget could “trigger as many as 25,000 annual job losses between the public and private sectors combined.”
So, when our elected officials vote tonight, what type of budget reduction plan will they be voting on? Will it be all cuts or a combination of cuts and taxes? What programs are being cut and what taxes are being increased?
Will our legislators be voting to cut essential social services?
Will our legislators be voting to ensure that the wealthy finally start paying their fair share in state income taxes?
Will our legislators be voting to borrow money to pay for current expenses?
Will our legislators be voting on a plan that will mean higher local property taxes?
There have been no public hearings on this plan.
The discussions have been held behind closed doors.
According to the House Republican leader, Representative Cafero, the “tentative” agreement, is “truly a compromise.”
After speaking with legislators, the CTNewsjunkie explained that the compromise “means Democrats and Republicans didn’t get everything they wanted as they attempted to reach a deal on how to close the budget deficit estimated at $365 million to $415 million.”
“It relies more heavily on spending cuts than we would have liked,” the Speaker of the House told reporters as he left the closed-door caucus where Democratic legislators were briefed on this secret plan.
The Hartford Courant added, “Lawmakers are set to vote today on a plan to close a state budget deficit by scrapping longevity bonuses for nonunion state workers in favor of a new compensation formula and cutting payments to hospitals, among other measures.”
The state does provide hospitals with funds to help off-set care that the hospitals provide to non-insured people. However, massive cuts to hospitals would definitely threaten the level of services at some hospitals and lead to a major shift in costs from those state grants to those who are insured. That cost shift will translate into higher health insurance premiums for those of us who have insurance. So is the legislature’s vote going to push our health insurance premiums higher? Is that fair?
And cutting out longevity bonuses for non-union workers is certainly understandable, but it solves about 1% of the $400 plus million state budget deficit.
So where are cuts coming from?
While action is definitely needed to bring Connecticut’s budget deficit under control, passing a “plan” that has never seen the light of day is not only incredibly inappropriate, but it is down-right unfair and undemocratic.
This plan, if it looks like the “road-map” proposed by Governor Malloy, will cut deeply into some of the most vital and essential services the state of Connecticut provides our most vulnerable citizens.
Malloy’s budget road map looked like something that would be put out by a Republican governor, not a solution based on the values and ideals of the Democratic Party.
Perhaps the secret plan will be fantastic.
Perhaps the secret plan will be a disaster.
But voting on the plan without telling the media and the people what is in it is bad news for Connecticut.
The people of our state deserve better.