About Town: Respite

We need a respite from the past legislative year. At least those of us who have been following the Connecticut General Assembly. This has entailed constant vigilance.

From past experience, I can tell you that the C.G.A. is run like three-card monte, or a shell game. Unless you are watching closely you are going to lose track.

In doing this over the years I have learned a new term: aircraft carrier bill. In past years it may have been called a “wedding cake” or sometimes a “mule,” but this time the more ominous title seems appropriate.

Toward the latter part of this year’s biennial “Long Session,” the approximately 180 bills awaiting action had no hope of passage during the Regular Session unless hijacked into another “title” that is general enough to allow for subsections of all provenances.

A new approach to thermal heating, HB6304, seemed to lose steam after a few questions were raised on the floor. For example, how come there is no fiscal note? In the midst of last day drama, who was going to be careful enough to catch this? Oops. Back to Appropriations.

And then there are corrections to the statutes. Such as SB826, a product of the “General Law” committee. How many different topics are addressed here? There are liquor control permits, drug wholesalers, restaurants, funeral homes, home-companion agencies, pharmacies, and ticket-purchasing software. Perhaps that committee should be named “Very General Law.”

The bottom line, however, is that lobbyists and legislators work very hard all session to “clean up” statutes. And in a year when the legislature is making it a practice to avoid bills that have a “fiscal note,” what’s left for them to do but pass lobbyists’ bills that make sense for the citizens, all the citizens of Connecticut?

But wait, let’s not forget one minor detail. The basic function of the “Long Session” is to pass a two-year or biennial budget for the state. If no budget is passed by July 1, they will have failed in their responsibility.

New Taxes

Get used to it. If you think that this legislature and this governor, who is not running for re-election, is going to eschew new ways to pick your pocket, you are dreaming.

Gov. Malloy has his plan. Let the towns deal with teacher retirement. Yet public school teachers do not pay into Social Security, or receive benefits from it. Why? Because they are provided with a retirement plan by the state.

Has the state of Connecticut lived up to its obligation to fund this plan? In a word, no. Just as the city of Hartford appears to be on the verge of bankruptcy, we are faced with the prospect of having to bail out our state.

Weston is left with the prospect of writing a check to the state of Connecticut, for perhaps two million dollars, by Dec. 31. And perhaps annually for 10 more years into the future, with payments increasing toward the end.

NOTE: “About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at aboutweston.com.

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