Sen. Miner: ‘Just because you’re in the majority doesn’t mean you should act this way.’ [CT Mirror]

June 15, 2021

Sen. Miner rebukes majority-democrats’ ‘tucked-in’ provisions to budget implementer

From the CT Mirror:

In Connecticut’s quiet corner, the small town of Killingly made national news a year ago by reinstating “Redmen” as the high school mascot, angering local tribes and countering a trend of stepping away from imagery and names offensive to Native Americans.

Budget language written by Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, whose district is home to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribal Nations, would make Killingly pay for that decision by costing the town its share of state aid generated by tribal casinos.

On page 77 of an 837-page budget implementation bill scheduled for a vote Tuesday by the Senate is a provision denying aid from the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan fund to any community with a team or school using a Native American mascot or nickname.

“Why should they get money from Native Americans and they don’t want to not disrespect them?” Osten said, speaking by telephone as she drove to Hartford for the Senate session.

Killingly would be one of a dozen or so communities to lose the Pequot Mohegan money, a relatively small source of aid to municipalities. Killingly’s share in the current fiscal year is $94,184.

The Pequot Mohegan fund takes a portion of the slots revenue the tribes pay the state in return for exclusive rights to casino gambling and distributes it to cities and towns. The tribes are the owners of Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun casinos.

Osten, the co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, has outsized influence in crafting the budget implementation bill, a measure that traditionally becomes a catch-all for last-minute changes to the budget and legislation that did not win passage.

This year’s version was made public about 3 a.m., when it was entered in the legislative website as Senate Bill 1202. Under legislative rules, the bill must be public for at least 12 hours before it can be debated.

Among other things, the bill codifies raises for state judges, cuts funding for a state contract oversight board, addresses voting rights and solid waste disposal and gives organized labor a victory or two: One provision would deny state aid to any company that moves a call center offshore; another would provide protections and aid for domestic workers.

The Senate is meeting in special session Tuesday for the sole purpose of voting on a marijuana legalization bill and the budget implementer. The House of Representatives will take up the measures on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, the hunt began for the winners and losers in the implementer. By Tuesday afternoon, the Senate Republican minority was complaining about how it was was produced and what’s it contains.

Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, hefted a printout of the bill, some four inches thick, and said, “It’s what the majority has worked on for the past four days, and literally was given to us in the middle of last night.”

Sen. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, a lawmaker in the minority for 18 of his 20 years in the General Assembly, said he was furious at the Democrats for ambushing the GOP by not giving notice of provisions they knew would be controversial.

“Just because you’re in the majority doesn’t mean you should act this way,” Miner said. “Just because the governor’s office couldn’t get things through the legislative cycle doesn’t mean you jam it in the implementer.”

Full article available here.