From: The Newtown Bee, September 16, 2009
To The Editor:
The state budget that was recently passed into law was a 702-page monstrosity of a bill, dropped in the laps of legislators just hours before the Democratic Majority in Hartford voted overwhelmingly to pass it. Those 702 pages contained a litany of provisions hazardous to Connecticut’s economy and our communities: job-killing tax increases, $1.55 billion in new spending, and $1.3 billion in borrowing that further sinks our state into debt.
We voted against this budget. In addition to the offensive levels of taxation, spending, and borrowing, those who voted in favor of the bill by and large did not read it because Legislators were given virtually no time to do so. Voting on legislation that has not had time to air publicly almost always results in more bad news surfacing after the fact.
The public is now finding out that the budget has imperiled state funding for Newtown High School’s expansion by canceling $7.8 million in school construction debt service payments. Unless something changes, Newtown and other municipalities could face a moratorium on payments from the state for projects already in progress, like Newtown High. Should that funding be canceled, the shortfall will be transferred to Newtown’s taxpayers — exactly what state funding was intended to avoid.
Even more offensive is that while school construction projects were being put in danger, the Democrats slipped nearly $8 million worth of earmarks and pet projects into the budget just before passage. Our children and public schools took a back seat to special interests in the budget that was passed.
The sloppy and haphazard manner in which this bill was written and passed by the Democrats is squarely to blame for this mess. A $37 billion budget should require serious debate and public scrutiny. Instead, the majority wrote the bill behind closed doors a few hours before passage, gave the press and other legislators only a brief synopsis of what was contained in the bill, and told their rank and file how to vote. Regrettably, few Democrats crossed the aisle in opposing the budget.
The Legislature can fix this problem when it meets in special session later this month, but it never should have happened in the first place. Most Americans would not sign a contract without reading it, nor would they take the word of someone else when considering a major financial transaction. Yet that is exactly what the Democrats did in voting for a budget they had not read, and it is exactly why we voted against the budget.
We, along with our Republican colleagues, will continue to pressure the Majority to rectify this problem. Let us hope that, unlike during the budget debate, the Democrats give adequate consideration to the consequences of their actions this time around.
Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R-112th)
Sen. John McKinney (R-28th)
Capitol Avenue, Hartford September 16, 2009