Sen. Jason Welch: Government Waste

April 30, 2013

Editorial as it appeared in the Foothills Media Group

Transparency in government is often thrown about at the capitol in Hartford. But it’s the lack of transparency that I find hides some of the most egregious government waste.

A fine example was the state bond commission agenda item that was tabled at the last minute when it was uncovered a communist-led nonprofit in New Haven was poised to receive a significant amount of state money. The $300,000 state bond was to refurbish the communist-led group’s headquarters.

At the time my republican colleagues, former State Sen. Andrew Roraback and current State Rep. Sean Williams, were the only two minority party members on the bond commission. Both spoke up and questioned this controversial item from the start.

The legislators were not attacking communists for being communists — they simply opposed the funding because communists are part of a political party. It is a basic principle that government shouldn’t pay partisan expenses.

Once word got out that this bonding agenda item was actually being considered, the public went into action. Taxpayers — especially the veterans groups — spoke out and rallied against this bond item. Many called the governor’s office, and wrote letters to the editor and joined in a rally in front of the organization, waving flags and patriotic signs.

When the governor ultimately pulled the bond item from the agenda, he said it was because of the overwhelming and emotional plea of the veterans from around the state. This action proves that when people feel strongly about something, and it is the will of the people, one cannot be denied.

Without those public outcries, this item would have passed.

Another example of government waste is item No. 13 on the next State Bond Commission agenda. A vote is expected on April 26. The Office of Legislative Management is requesting $1.26 million for improvements to infrastructure at the Legislative Office Building (LOB) and the State Capitol.

Those improvements, I’m told, include the upgrade of the public address system. I have heard the announcements on the public address system, it sounds fine to me. I understand replacement of the roofs on the LOB and garage stair towers, and the replacement of a boiler and windows at the Capitol. But to spend money on a system that doesn’t appear to be broken is irresponsible and disappointing.

In 2011, the majority party approved $800,000 for a new vote tally scoreboard in the House. At the time, Gov. Malloy said the new technology will be beneficial, and citizens deserve having votes of the House of Representatives properly recorded. Apparently votes in the House were failing to register — there were random flashing lights on the board, and unexplainable slowdowns.

Instead of fixing the issues, the legislative majority voted to spend the $800,000 on a new board. I guess raising one’s hand to signify a yes vote was out of the question? It would have been a temporary fix, but a free one in these tough economic times. It’s up to legislators and the public to keep the administration honest.

To see the full April 26 Bond Agenda, visit

If you see government waste, please feel free to contact my office at 1-800-842-1421 or e-mail me at [email protected].

State Sen. Welch represents District 31, including the towns of Thomaston, Plainville, Plymouth, Bristol and Harwinton.