Gov. Rell is proposing yet another early retirement program as part of a plan to close a $750 million budget deficit for 2011. Rell yesterday emerged from her office with Democratic legislative leaders and talked about some of the ideas she gave them for closing the gap.
Theoretically, an Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) allows older, more highly paid state workers to retire and be replaced by younger, less expensive workers. The gamble with an ERIP is that some positions require the experience and knowledge that the retiring workers have. In that case, the retiring workers are sometimes hired back, short-term, to do these important jobs. In those cases, no money is saved.
Other details of Rell’s plan were not revealed but it reportedly contains no new taxes and no cuts in municipal aid. In that case, Democrats worry, many social service programs may be adversely affected.
Another controversial idea making the rounds at the Capitol is securitizing revenue streams—selling off future revenue for a lump sum payment (usually pennies on the dollar) right now. The governor said she still believes Keno—the gambling game—can provide securitized revenue.
Democrats say they want the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis to examine the proposals. While things seem congenial now, chances are the two sides will start digging in on their principles.
Closing arguments are expected in the rather bizarre legal proceedings of Susan Bysiewicz, the state’s secretary of state who is trying to be declared eligible to run and serve as attorney general. Bysiewicz had to sue her own office to achieve her goal. Questioning by a lawyer for the state Republican party turned into fireworks at times. State statute requires the attorney general to have had ten years of “active practice” of law. The state provides no help on what constitutes “active practice.”
If Bysiewicz weathers this storm and can run, she very well may win. She has a healthy lead in the polls and much of the Democratic establishment in the state continues to back her.
It took just one Hartford Courant “Opinion” section column for both Gov. Rell and her nominee for a Superior Court Judgeship to fold. Rell had nominated state prosecutor Brian Leslie of Wallingford to one of ten spots open for a Superior Court Judge. However the newspaper column, written by Kevin Rennie, alleged that when Leslie was passed over for a promotion in 2002, he began “subverting” the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the chief state’s attorney’s office. The charge was made in a 2005 deposition by Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Paul Murray.
The whole episode calls into question the governor’s vetting process for judgeships or, conversely, her unwillingness to stand behind the people she’s chosen.
Rennie, a Republican former state senator, was harsh on Rell in last Sunday’s column, calling her “an egregious hack.”