There is really no arguing the point that the 2011 session of the Connecticut General Assembly was a huge success for Gov. Malloy—all the major items on his agenda passed—but Republicans say the result will not be good for the state. And the wheels could come off the entire budget if labor doesn’t ratify a $1.6 billion dollars concessions plan.
The session ended at midnight Wednesday without the frenetic chaos that usually marks the final hours of sessions. That’s largely because Malloy already got what he wanted. Among bills on his agenda that passed:
• The state budget. Malloy’s people say it plugs the $3.5 billion deficit without shredding the “safety net” for the most vulnerable in the state. A big component of it though, is not yet in place. 14 out of 15 state employee labor and 80 percent of the rank and file have to ratify the concessions deal reach by the administration and labor negotiators. If they don’t, Malloy says he will be forced to layoff thousands of state employees—possibly more than 7,000. Even if enough rank and file vote for the deal, Republicans say, in essence, it’s “Malloy Math”; that the resulting savings won’t be what Malloy says it will.
• Paid sick leave. Connecticut becomes the first state to require it.
• In-state tuition for illegal immigrants
• A plan for early release of some prisoners
• A $900-million revamping of the UConn health center
• Decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana
• A massive energy bill designed to lower electric rates currently the highest in the nation
• A number of smaller bills
Malloy was successful is bucking the national trend—the slash-and-burn cutting of services and massive layoffs seen in New Jersey and New York; and the anti-union fervor that gripped Wisconsin and Ohio. The first-term governor promised things would be different and in fact, they are. The jury is still out on what it will all mean.