In the face of a current budget deficit of nearly half a billion dollars, Republicans are proposing what they have always proposed -- a modest cut in spending of 6.5%.
The Republicans also want to restore 84 million in cuts to municipalities as well as the half percentage point sales tax reduction that disappeared because Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams cleverly pegged the reduction to disappearing revenues. The tax would have remained in place if state revenues did not sink below a predictable level that caused its elimination.
The Republican proposal has caused the union bought Speaker of the State House of Representatives to reach for his adjectives. Speaker Chris Donovan denounced the Republican plan as “misleading and deceptive" – sort of like the budget he and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams fashioned, which is now, only weeks after its passage through the Democratic dominated legislature, a half million dollars in the red.
In the new fiscal year, the state will face a multi-billion dollar budget gap, Christmas pudding to the Democrats, whose as yet unannounced plan is to cover the bulk of the coming deficit by increasing Connecticut’s new progressive income tax.
Gov. Jodi Rell, now a lame duck and free to display her true colors, objected to the Republican plan because it contained a $36 million cut in higher education spending that would deny the state $541 million in stimulus funny- money that the federal government is prepared to borrow from the Chinese government, whose economic program is decidedly more Friedmanesque than President Barrack Obama’s command economy.
Donovan was delighted, as always, to use Rell’s objection to frustrate Republican measures, the one constant in his too expensive leadership of the House.
Williams, Donovan’s co-partner in the Senate, was encouraged that more and more lawmakers were speaking out on cue “about the negative impacts Gov. Rell's proposed cuts would have on cities and towns. Unfortunately, while Republicans say they want to protect municipalities, their own plan would shift many costs to cities and towns, make mid-year property taxes more likely, and possibly compromise public safety.”
The Democratic leadership's concern for the public safety is touching, all the more so since the Judiciary committee co-chaired by the Catholic averse Michael Lawlor in the House and Andrew McDonald in the Senate, reinstated days before William’s announcement “an early release program for prison inmates that was curtailed after two parolees were charged with killing a woman and her two daughters in Cheshire in 2007,” according to an Associated Press story.
Lawlor said, according to the AP report, that the decision of his committee was “part of the state budget approved by lawmakers and supported by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Officials say it will save about $4 million a year by reducing the prison population.”
With a bow to public safety, leading Democrats in the legislature consistently have refused to pass a Republican inspired “three strikes and you’re out” law for violent offenders. When the Democratic dominated legislature rejected the effort while punctiliously passing a bill making it illegal for citizens to keep dangerous large primates as pets, Chris Powell, the Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer and a columnist for that paper, noted the logical inconsistencies of Democratic legislators and could not help but notice the similarity between chimps and chumps:
“Responding to the horrible incident in Stamford in February, the legislature outlawed making pets of large primates and other animals considered dangerous. But the legislature has yet to respond to the horrible incident in Cheshire two years ago, in which a woman and her two daughters were murdered, purportedly by two career criminals on parole. Not only did the legislature refuse again this year to pass a "three strikes" law or even a "20 strikes" law; it again declined to inquire into why the defendants in Connecticut's worst atrocity in living memory have not even been brought to trial after two years. Apparently it is enough that Connecticut is now a bit safer from rogue chimpanzees.”
As a point of interest, it may be noted that the “three strikes and you’re out” bill was blocked in the legislature after the founder of the Three Strikes Coalition, Sam Caligiuri, announced his bid to run for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat.
Caligiuri, as well as Justin Bernier, an energetic and promising Republican, currently is running for the 5th district U.S. House seat held by U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy.