Senators Fasano, Duff Clash Over Malloy Vetoes [Courant]

July 22, 2015

Hartford Courant

Two of the top state senators – Republican leader Len Fasano and Democratic majority leader Bob Duff – clashed sharply over the decision by Democrats to avoid debating the merits of a veto by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Fasano and his caucus wanted to debate over Malloy’s veto of a bipartisan bill that would increase the required qualifications for the state education commissioner. The bill emerged in the legislature this year because Malloy’s first education commissioner, Stefan Pryor, did not have an extensive background in classroom teaching in the public schools.

Instead, Pryor had a law degree from Yale, a background in economic development, and a stint as deputy mayor in Newark under then-Mayor Cory Booker, who is now in the U.S. Senate.

After several minutes of procedural confusion on the floor Monday, the Senate cast a strict party line vote of 18 to 12 to adjourn the veto session without even considering the bills.

In a fiery press conference after the vote, Fasano railed against the procedural decision to end the session and cut off all debate.

“That’s one-party rule. That’s dictatorship,” the normally mild-mannered Fasano said. “That’s embarrassing.”

Duff and Senate President Pro Tem Marty Looney of New Haven both said at a press conference that after the House of Representatives adjourned without an override vote that there was nothing the Senate could have changed. Duff dismissed the Republican complaints as political theatrics.

“For them, it was really just an attempt to embarrass the governor,” Duff said, “and I wasn’t going to stand for that.”

Fasano rejected the notion that Republicans simply wanted to embarrass Malloy – raising the point that Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell was overridden 16 times by the Democratic-controlled legislature during her 6 1/2- year tenure.

“Does that mean every time Marty voted to override Rowland and Rell he’s just trying to embarrass Rowland and Rell?” Fasano asked.

But Duff saw it a different way.

“They have really done their best to root for failure,” Duff said of Republicans. “I have a tremendous respect for Senator Fasano, but again, his caucus and the House Republican caucus have brought the notion of rooting for failure to a new level for the last two months. And it’s really discouraging.”

Sen. Tony Hwang, a Fairfield Republican, said that he would have overturned all nine of Malloy’s vetoes.

“Yesterday, what we saw from the majority party was a complete abdication of our constitutional authority and our responsibility of service to the people we represent,” Hwang said Tuesday.

“What we have come to see is that the majority party has essentially become a rubber stamp for the governor and his failed economic policies,” Hwang said. “Gov. Malloy has vetoed 39 bills since 2011 and not once has the legislature exerted its constitutional authority by overriding them. Yet during Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s six and-a-half years in office, the Democrat-controlled legislature saw fit to override 16 of her vetoes.”