BUDGET WILL OVERSHADOW ALL OTHER ISSUES IN NEW SESSION

Happy New Year everyone! Most blogs have New Year entries with some sort of top ten list about the year that just passed. Not so with The Hanging Shad. First, the author finds them tedious, annoying and completely arbitrary. Second, the Shad has been dark for some time now because the author has not mastered walking down a flight of stairs while carrying one of those big, gray totes most people use for storing or moving things. They extend forward so you can’t look down and see the stairs. The end result? The Shad is fortunate Hartford Hospital has Wifi. The whole sad story is explained on The Hanging Shad bipartisan website.
The 2010 legislative session is only a month away but barring some kind of miracle, lawmakers’ and the governor’s minds will still be on the current fiscal year’s budget deficit which is at least $337 million now and will be substantially more in a month. In fact, we’re going in the wrong direction. Democrats passed a bill in December that would have delayed for two years, a scheduled reduction in the estate tax for the rich. The delay would have meant (an estimated) $76 million toward reducing the deficit. The governor vetoed the bill containing the delay as well as another bill containing nominal cuts; Governor Rell said it was not enough.
It may be true that it’s not enough but at least it’s something. Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney (D-New Haven) compared it to 4 people on a lifeboat but the ability to save only 3. Do you let them all die because you can’t save them all? Sen. Looney suggested the governor should have signed the bills, accepted the savings, then continued talks with legislative leaders. Sen. Looney has again shown himself to be a lawmaker that gets it. The Democrats are right that the governor hasn’t done everything she can under the current budget agreement to make cuts to state agencies—a point made time and time again by Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. The Republicans are right that further negotiations should be bipartisan and should start immediately.
2010 is also an election year so expect nearly every motion, debate and vote to be tinged with politics. And because of the new campaign finance reform law that includes public financing (assuming PF exists in the fall), you need a scorecard to keep track of which candidate is running for which office. Two Republican candidates have already left their original races for another major race. PF is also encouraging rank and file legislators and other familiar names from business development and the like to consider running. 2010 should be quite a year both at the Capitol and on the campaign trail.
Connecticut legislators, environmentalists, shoreline residents and the state attorney general’s office should still be keeping an eye on Broadwater Energy—the company that wanted to put a massive liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal in Long Island Sound. State stakeholders in the issue were very active while Broadwater lobbied for approval. Connecticut had no legal standing in the dispute because the proposed site wasn’t close enough to Connecticut’s shore. Finally, New York officials said “no.”
Now Boston officials, including Mayor Thomas Menino are freaking out because a shipment of LNG is due to arrive next month and has to go through Boston Harbor to get to an LNG facility. Its point of origin is Yemen. All things Yemeni are drawing extra scrutiny after the Christmas Day attempt by a Nigerian man, who trained in Yemen, to blow up a US airliner over Detroit.
Menino would like to shut down the shipment. He told the Boston Globe, “We’re in extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of our city…They cannot be coming into a harbor like Boston, where there is less than 50 feet between the tankers and residential areas…” Connecticut needs to stay on its toes and make sure no appeal or any other effort by Broadwater succeeds.
Let’s make 2010 better than 2009. Personally, I’d hate to see one that’s worse.
Pax.