Municipal Leaders Share Concerns with State Legislators

February 22, 2010

Last Thursday evening, Februray 18th, I had the opportunity to participate in the Connecticut Consortium for Fiscal Responsibility held at the Granby Senior Center. A number of municipal and legislative leaders were in attendance including the three legislators who represent Granby: Sen. Kevin Witkos, Rep. Annie Hornish and myself.

Mike Guarco, founder of the Consortium and chair of the Granby Finance Board has done an incredible job putting this group together and there are now over one-hundred towns represented in its membership!

Not surprisingly, municipal leaders echoed what minority Republicans have been saying for a very long time: stop passing unfunded mandates down to the towns. We worked hard last year to delay implementation of in-school suspension and will renew our efforts this year to get the costly and burdensome unfunded mandate put to rest permanently. Cal Heminway, chair of the Granby Board of Education also raised concerns over the mandated minimum spending per pupil and that the state has consistently fallen short in holding up their end of the deal. Members of the Senate Republican caucus have also proposed legislation placing a three-year moratorium on state mandates to municipalities as well as legislation requiring a two-thirds majority vote on legislation that creates or enlarges a state mandate to local governments.

Municipalities also called out for greater transparency in the legislative process. While I agree with these concerns whole-heartedly as I said in the meeting, increasing transparency is a difficult goal when one party holds the super-majority in both the House and Senate chambers. The public is made aware of important issues through the process of public debates between legislators, but when one party holds such a great amount of power, they no longer need the support of minority party members.

Despite the majority’s overwhelming numbers, there are still some moderate Democrat legislators that agree with the consortium. In hopes of moving the majority to take these issues seriously, the consortium has proposed holding meetings and reaching out to concerned taxpayers in towns represented by legislative majority leaders. We will do all we can to keep people informed of these efforts as we obtain further information from the leaders of the consortium.