With only about 70 days left in the 2009 legislative session, the state legislature’s majority Democrats have done little or nothing to address urgent problems facing Connecticut – such as identifying $220 million in cuts to help balance the budget for the current fiscal year, state Representative Arthur J. O’Neill said today.
Democrat legislative leaders promised to identify those cuts when the most recent deficit mitigation plan passed February 25th. The spending reductions are needed to help eliminate a projected $1.2 billion deficit in the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30th.
“In the interest of avoiding partisan wrangling, I voted for the deficit mitigation package that enjoyed widespread bipartisan support when it came to the House floor for a vote in February,” Representative O’Neill said. “Since then, the Democrat leaders in the state House and Senate have done little or nothing to identify the $220 million in savings they agreed to find when we approved the plan.”
“The failure on the part of the General Assembly’s Democrat leaders to come up with critical spending cuts brings to mind the incident involving the dog that did not bark in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery Silver Blaze,” said Representative O’Neill, R-69th District.
“Their failure to take meaningful action to find areas of the budget that could be reduced is typified by the fact that the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the judicial and corrections departments had its first meeting to look into possible cuts in those agencies’ budgets on March 23rd. The majority Democrats on the subcommittee could not agree on a single item that could be reduced,” said Representative O’Neill, the House Republican Leader on both the Judiciary Committee and the subcommittee.
“The Democrat majority also has yet to ‘bark’ when it comes to amending the Connecticut Wage Act to change a provision AIG and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke have cited to excuse the $165 million in bonuses granted to top executives whose bad decisions led to the company’s financial collapse,” Representative O’Neill said. “Last week, House Republican legislators came up with a common sense proposal to change this law that most Democrat legislators initially supported – and which was supposed to come to the floor of the House for a vote today. Instead, the General Assembly’s legislative leaders shelved the proposal, ostensibly because of upcoming Banks Committee hearings on the issue.”
“The third time the dog did not bark was when, for no apparent reason, the majority Democrats chose not to act on Governor Rell’s proposal to change the unemployment compensation laws to access $58 million in federal stimulus funds,” Representative O’Neill said.
“Lastly, they have taken no action to streamline the state Department of Environmental Protection’s permitting process to speed up economic stimulus projects Governor Rell has identified as critical to protecting and creating Connecticut jobs,’ Representative O’Neill said.
“With all these pressing issues demanding our attention, the majority Democrats have frittered away valuable time arguing about minor bills that are of marginal interest to the people of Connecticut, who are struggling to hold onto their jobs and feed their families in one of the worst recessions we have seen since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s,” Representative O’Neill said.
“Today’s House session was a perfect example. Instead of acting on measures to address the state’s fiscal crisis, stimulate the economy and preserve and create jobs, the House acted on proposals to improve efficiency standards for residential lawn sprinkler systems and to ensure that state residents have an accurate and consistent way to recognize the qualifications of acupuncture practitioners,” Representative O’Neill said.
“While both of those proposals address concerns affecting some people in Connecticut, they are clearly less urgent than the need to deal with the state’s fiscal crisis and to stimulate the economy – and those are the very issues where the majority Democrats have come up short,” Representative O’Neill said.
In Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery Silver Blaze, Holmes and a Scotland Yard detective had the following exchange:
Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”