Special Session Offers ‘Mixed Bag’
One of the budget bills lawmakers will be asked to vote on Tuesday is 405 pages, and the other is 189 pages, according to House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero.
There are about 115 concepts jammed into the two bills and only about 60 percent, “if you stretch it” could be applied to the budget, Cafero said.
Tuesday’s resolution calling the General Assembly back for a special session is limited to language to implement the 2013 budget.
According to a draft list of concepts obtained by CTNewsjunkie, there will be language in the bill that does everything from validate an East Hartford bonding referendum on flood control to exempt taxpayers in seven towns who missed a statutory deadline to extend a moratorium on affordable housing in Berlin.
There’s also language that gives State Health Care Advocate Victoria Veltri a vote on the Insurance Exchange Board, an issue health care advocates have been pushing since their bill never cleared the Senate in the last two weeks of the session.
As we previously reported on Friday the jobs bill is in, a minimum wage increase is out, and the $5,000 fees on the roll-your-own cigarette machines will go into effect in October.
One of the two budget bills also includes sweeping of the funds from a surplus in the Probate Court system, which the state worked to save when it went it was running an operating deficit, Cafero said.
“It’s abuse of power. This is classic one party rule,“ he said in an interview outside the Capitol.
Cafero said the Democratic majority also seems to be moving a bunch of “administrative costs” outside the general budget and to grants which help fund the programs.
“It’s another way to take operating expenses offline so it doesn’t count,” Cafero said.
Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey who will be pinch-hitting for House Speaker Chris Donovan Tuesday said last week that he’s not going to segregate out every single concept for lawmakers to vote on.
“It’s a mixed bag,” he said.
There had been talk of expanding the call for the special session, but Sharkey said they decided against it.
“Connecticut residents don’t want partisan bickering – they want us to get things done,“ Adam Joseph, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said Monday.
“We’re going to pass a bill that helps small businesses create jobs and makes government more efficient. We’re making budget adjustments that invest in domestic violence prevention, homeless re-housing and vo-tech training for unemployed adults. These aren’t ‘pet projects.’ They’re lifelines for Connecticut citizens,” he added.
Cafero argues that if these things were so important to Democrats then they should have been done during the regular session before the May 9 deadline.
“We are supposed to be implementing the budget. This is not a straightforward or transparent of doing the peoples’ business,” Cafero said.