State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney stepped up his criticism of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s attendance at the White House Correspondence Dinner (WHVD) Wednesday night by saying he doesn’t believe the governor was approached with an invitation to the event. The governor’s office says Malloy received the invitation from People magazine unsolicited. The magazine paid for the governor’s trip—estimated at more $1,000—including travel, food and lodging. Ethics laws prohibit gifts worth more than $100.
McKinney Wednesday claimed that having People pay for the trip was a violation of the ethics laws. In short, McKinney claims the trip was entertainment despite the fact Malloy may have talked up the state with the rich and famous. Malloy’s office claims it was official business, part of an outreach with the governor representing the state.
In an interview with The Hanging Shad, McKinney added that “it’s not believable” that Malloy was approached with the invitation. “I don’t believe this story [that he was approached]. Somebody knew somebody and [Malloy] wanted to go. It’s a violation of the law plain and simple.”
Legislative Republicans to be Shut Out of State Budget Negotiations; Rep. Williams: “It’s a Disgrace”
When Democrats in the General Assembly get down to the business of hammering out a new, two-year budget, Republicans will not be in the room, a situation a top Republican calls “a disgrace.” Democratic leaders will soon meet with Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget people to try to find common ground on a new spending plan. It’s clear the negotiations will be between Democratic leadership and the administration.
Republican state Rep. Sean Williams, a ranking member of the finance committee, says he can’t understand why the majority party would exclude the minority. “It’s amazing. We had [bipartisan consensus] on the jobs bill, the education bill, the gun bill and the deficit mitigation bill. Each time we brought something of value to the table. If we’re excluded this time, it’s a disgrace,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney says the senate Democrats will caucus the budget issues tomorrow. The proposal that came out of the legislature’s fiscal committees (finance and appropriations) differs from the governor’s. “I’m confident we can work something out and come to a consensus.” On the issue of Republican input, Looney said as of now, it’s just Democratic leadership and the administration. “We’re not sure what kind of formal input the Republicans will have, if at all.”
On the budget itself, Looney says the key to both the governor’s and the legislature’s spending proposals as well as any subsequent agreement is redefining the constitutionally mandated spending cap. Democrats want to exempt from the cap any spending that will be fully reimbursed by the federal government as well as any expenditure for unfunded liabilities for state workers’ pensions and teachers’ retirement plans.
It takes a super majority (three-fifths) in both the Senate and House to change the spending cap. It’s unclear at this point whether the votes are there. “The spending cap is the key to the entire plan,” Looney said. “[Without the change] we’re looking at a couple hundred million dollars in cuts in this year and about $500 million in the second year.”
State House Minority Leader Larry Cafero raised some eyebrows this week when he signaled his openness to a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to get a Connecticut drivers license. Cafero, a Republican, is a staunch conservative so it wouldn’t be surprising for him to oppose the measure. But he is also likely to run for governor and his moderate position on this issue may be a sign of things to come—legislators taking positions with an eye on independent voters in a gubernatorial election. Both Cafero and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney are considering bids for governor.
Cafero hasn’t exactly been a friend to immigrants who don’t have legal status. For instance, he was a vocal opponent of the state’s “Dream Act” passed in 2011 that allowed undocumented students to take advantage of in-state tuition rates at state universities. He voted against it. Of course, he wasn’t running for governor in 2011 and didn’t see a need to ingratiate himself to any particular demographic.
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s latest distraction created by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Dan Esty once again involves Esty’s past interests in outside energy companies. This time he held a conference call with investors of UBS, an investment back which has an interest in Northeast Utilities (NU). This is just the latest in a series of incidents that have been unnecessary problems for Malloy. There’s an “energy policy epidemic” in Connecticut and Esty is driving the monkey to the airport.
The conference call came on the eve of a vote on a new energy bill. NU paid big bucks to Esty for speaking engagements before he was DEEP commissioner. In the end, Esty said he didn’t reveal any inside information on the call but admitted he shouldn’t have participated in it given the timing. Debate on the bill was postponed.
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests are now flying around the Capitol like baseballs at Fenway. All the usual suspects are lining up to get a look at all documents pertaining to Esty and his work on energy issues. They even want his work schedule. Could there be meetings that we should know about?
Few may be paying attention to it but there is an election in Massachusetts Tuesday that will very likely decide who will be the next United States senator from the Bay State. The contest between US Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch has seen some lively debates and creative TV advertising. But in the The Shad’s view, the race stands out because of the unbridled arrogance of Markey.
A couple of recent get-out-the-vote emails from the Markey campaign show a sense of entitlement and conceit rarely seen even in political campaigns which are routinely rife with such attitudes.
Last Thursday, this gem went out the Markey folks:
With just 5 days left before the primary we have some exciting news: Ed Markey, the man himself, will be joining us for a rally at Powder House Circle on Saturday at 9:30 AM! RSVP Here
Now is the time when the campaign is kicking in to high gear. We’ll be making phone calls tonight and tomorrow out of our New Office at 490 Broadway Ave in Somerville (in Magoun Square). And come Saturday, GOTV is in full swing with canvassing, phone banking, doorhangers and much more going on every day through election day. This is when your efforts translate directly into votes in the ballot box, and this when we need your help the most. So sign up for some shifts and come hear Ed Markey on Saturday at 9:30 AM.
We’re still recruiting for all positions for Election Day, so if you’re willing to give us your time, we’ll find a way that you can make a difference.
It’s Now Or Never!
The man himself??? I’ve been around a lot of campaigns and have never quite seen something like this. I chalked it up to some adoring and enamored campaign workers. Then this one Saturday:
4 days. We’ve got 4 days to close out this primary. 4 days to get Ed’s message to every corner of the commonwealth. 4 days to win.
So we’re making things interesting. I’m writing to tell you about the Walk with Ed sweepstakes. On Monday night Ed’s going to his last primary rally, in Malden, where it all began. And the top five canvassers are going to walk him from the train station to Malden High.
Sign up here to knock on doors this weekend.
As you read this, Ed’s crisscrossing the state, rallying the vote and standing up with supporters. He’s giving it all he’s got. Sign up here and join him.
Track and field runners sprint to the finish line then lean forward while they cross. Well we’re 4 days from the finish line and Ed’s sprinting. If you want to help him lean across, he needs you to sprint with him now.
P.S. Want to help out but can’t make it to Malden on Monday? Sign up here for a GOTV rally near you.
Thanks, Carl. I’ll be falling all over myself to win a chance to walk with Ed in the “Walk with Ed Sweepstakes.” One question: Do I genuflect first?
Raising the State Minimum Wage: Governor, Speaker on Board; Business Group Opposed; Senate President Uncommitted
This year’s proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage is getting mixed reviews for sure. Gov. Malloy supports an increase as does Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey. The Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) opposes it. Senate President Don Williams is noncommittal.
A bill that has come out of the legislature’s labor committee is more aggressive. It would raise the wage by $1.50 over two years (up to $9 in July and $9.75 in July 2014).
CBIA Vice President of Public Policy Joe Brennan tells The Hanging Shad his group, the largest, most representative business organization in the state, is against any increase in minimum wage, particularly now. “We opposed the bill when it was in [the labor] committee. Many of our members don’t pay minimum wage but some do. Those are usually restaurants and retail outlets. Those groups are leading the charge against an increase.” Brennan added now is not the time to further burden businesses given the still-struggling economy. He speculated that some senators won’t support an increase in the wage after passing the controversial paid sick leave legislation which businesses claim has hurt them.
Brennan added that while CBIA is opposed to any increase, the governor’s proposal is better than the labor committee bill. “One, it’s less of an increase than the committee bill; and two, it’s not tied to the consumer price index,” he said. Tying increases to the CPI would mean automatic increases in the wage going forward.
NOTE: I know this is inside legislative baseball but politically speaking, supporters of a higher minimum wage might not want it tied to the CPI. They’d be better off having a debate every year—it’s smart politics.
Where the Senate comes down on this one is the key question. Last year, when then-Speaker Chris Donovan was pushing an increase, there simply weren’t the votes in the Senate Democrats caucus to pass the bill. Therefore, it was never brought out for a vote.
Senate President Don Williams (my former boss) told me during last year’s debate that the caucus has supported increases in the minimum wage in the past but only when economic times were good.
When I asked for comment on the possibility of supporting the current effort, Williams spokesman Adam Joseph said, “Senator Williams has supported increases in the minimum wage in past and will take the current bill to the caucus.” When I pressed for the senator’s personal position (not the caucus position), Joseph said, “Senator Williams has supported an increase in the minimum wage in the past and will when it makes sense to do it.”[Shad emphasis] Mark that down as, “I’m on the fence and it hurts.”
The truth is, while Williams didn’t actively oppose Donovan’s bill last year, he didn’t support it either, nor did many a good number of other Democratic senators, enough to kill the bill. That leaves the state Senate holding the keys to the minimum wage vault. Stay tuned.
The town of Woodbridge is still mourning the death of First Selectman Ed Sheehy. Democrats in town are trying to move on and be sure a talented, insightful and experienced person can take over the office in the election next Tuesday. They couldn’t have found a better candidate than former state Rep. Ellen Scalettar.
I had the pleasure of working with Scalettar when I was on staff at the Senate Democrats in the General Assembly. She was and still is a top aide to Senate President Don Williams. She excels in heading the caucus research team as well in policy issues, strategy and teamwork.
The most impressive thing about Scalettar is that she reasonable—she’s willing to listen to other viewpoints and she’s a surprisingly independent voice in the caucus. (Many times the caucus sees only the viewpoint of labor and other groups in the so-called party “base” to the exclusion of the average Connecticut voter who is fairly moderate.) This is a quality very much necessary for a municipal leader.