Thursday, June 4, 2009

CT Legislature - Session Ends And Still No Budget

The boys and girls under the gold dome in Hartford have been in session since January 7, 2009, and they still have no budget to show for their efforts as of the close of business yesterday. They had been in session for 5 whole months under the Session scheduling rules, and now they still need more time to get the necessary work done that they were elected to do in the first place.

So what did they do?
Not a whole lot of anything really meaningful.
They spent time debating plastic bags and whether or not municipal Boards of Education should be required to have two students from local high schools be non voting members. They yammered on about wanting to microstamp bullet casings, and they wasted a lot of time on bills that will be vetoed anyway.

Still, after all that time wasted on minor issues we are sitting here in CT with no state budget and a deficit projected to be about $8.7 billion for the next two fiscal years. Talk about ineffective and wasteful government! If there were a contest, CT could very well be in the running for the most ineffective legislature in the US.

The Courant stated:
Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Republican legislators have offered separate budget plans that would not raise taxes, while Democrats have offered more than $3 billion in tax increases to close the gap. But there has been little movement toward a compromise, and a special session is likely later this month.
Five solid months of legislative activity produced very little meaningful legislation to help make our State more financially sound, more attractive to business, or able to confidently navigate the next couple of very difficult years in a harsh national and global economy. People are losing their homes, their jobs, and the best these folks could do is waste 5 months on minor legislation like whether or not we should have plastic bags at the grocery stores!

Not only that, but the scandal after legislative scandal was just unbelievable! Between legislators forging documents and allegedly leaving people to die in the snow and double billing their PACS or driving DUI... it's just incredible the lack of ethics that we have witnessed with some of these elected representatives. How they can return home to their constituents with any dignity intact is beyond me. What is even more amazing is that they will most likely get re-elected!

Yes Virginia - we have no State budget but they managed to pass bills to
-reform the probate court system (which wasn't really rocket science)
-make it illegal for kids to handle machine guns (an obvious knee jerk reaction to a MA incident)
-require that fast-food restaurants list calories on their menus (now there's a important issue sure to solve the obesity crisis in CT!)
-changed the way US Senate seat vacancies are handled eliminating Governor appointment (special elections? fancy that idea)
-create some sort of vague "green" jobs (perhaps that really means more opportunity for graft - I guess it depends what "green" means)
-establish an enterprise zone at Bradley International Airport (I thought the airport already had enterprise going on there; maybe I am wrong)
-ban the ownership of chimps and other animals (dang - now Siegfried and Roy won't be moving to CT)

-and let's not forget the extremely high priority resolution apologizing for slavery in Connecticut that had previously passed in the House! Well, I guess since the witches got attention last year we had to apologize for something else this year.

Aside from the budget - they did not adequately address many hot button issues:
-decriminalizing marijuana
-outlawing the "zone pricing" of gasoline
-requiring employers to provide paid sick days to their workers
-banning open alcohol containers in automobiles
-Election day voter registration
-and issues regarding the legal and financial structure of Roman Catholic parishes

Perhaps it is extremely good news that much legislation did not get done - it is apparent that we could really do without most of what was proposed anyway.

And as far as issues regarding life and death go -
The abolition of the death penalty in Connecticut passed by both House and Senate now faces Governor Rell's veto....and the best they could muster with regard to health care reform in CT was coming up with their SustiNet universal health-care proposal, and legislation that would allow small businesses, municipalities, and nonprofit agencies to join in on the state's healthcare coverage pool. We'll see how that goes. Seems like another grand and expensive bureaucratic nightmare in the making.

So now our elected officials will have to come back in a special session to get the real work done after fiddling around for 5 months.

You know what I think? I think that these elected legislators ought to do their work PRO BONO - we paid them already for 5 months work and didn't even get a budget out of it. That's like paying someone to come paint your house and all they did was weed the garden, clean your windows and fix the stones on the walkway! Oh, but they talked and argued among themselves about painting the house, and debated what color they should use and whether they should paint the top first or the bottom first. And now they want you to pay them more for them to come back and do the job.

CT taxpayers should call for every state legislator to work to get the budget done unpaid and on their own time. If furloughs are good enough for State union employees, they are certainly good enough for our elected representatives who have so far squandered their time and our money.