Special Session Transportation Irony

December 9, 2015

WTNH

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — State lawmakers are all back at the State Capitol voting to cut $350 million in state spending in order to stop the red ink.

They’re voting on that budget cutting plan that includes a change in business taxes sought by several large corporations, restores about half of those cuts to the hospitals but not before Republicans tried to make some points.

Republicans attempting to pass a resolution that would require all labor union contracts be approved on by the House and Senate.

An effort that has been resisted by the Democratic leadership as a meaningless gesture. “If we were to give an up or down vote it would just go back to both the Governor’s office and the unions and it would just to arbitration,” said House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin.)

Noting that the Governor is currently in negotiations with 14 of the 15 state worker unions the Majority Leader in the Senate Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) was even more forceful in his condemnation of the idea saying, “That is an Executive branch function so anybody who says that the legislature can unilaterally make changes to labor contracts is in fantasyland.”

In defense of the proposal, that failed in the House, Minority Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby) said, “Although there are checks and balances in many regards in many things we do in the state there are none in regards to employee contracts.”

One of the great ironies of today’s Special Session, is that lawmakers are voting on a Constitutional Amendment that would forbid using money in the Special Transportation Fund for anything other than transportation projects at the same time they are raiding that fund of 35 million dollars to balance the books this year. “We’re standing up here saying we want a ‘Constitutional Amendment to protect money we’ve put into the Transportation Fund and the same breath we’re raiding that fund to balance the budget,” said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven.)

In defense Senate Majority Leader Duff said, “We’ve all had to make compromises, we all have to do things that we needed to do to get an agreement and to balance our budget.”

That ‘Lockbox’ amendment passed both the House and Senate Tuesday, that will put it on the ballot in a future election. The spending cuts passed the Senate late this afternoon. The House is expected to follow tonight.

You can see the entire 10 page list of budget cuts voted on today here