SESSION 2010: JOB WELL-DONE OR PASSING THE BUCK?

The post-mortem on the 2010 session of the Connecticut General Assembly is that it was either a lesson in cooperation resulting in a no-new taxes, no cut to in aid to cities and towns, and a balanced budget or business-as-usual use of gimmicks, one-shot revenues and deferring the tough decisions to other years and another governor. As with just about everything in politics, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

It is a tradition for Democrats and Republicans to spin the session the day after it closes and this year was no different.

Senate President Don Williams hailed the session as one in which the naysayers were defied as the majority Democrats and Gov. Rell came together to fashion a balanced budget that does not increase taxes and does not cut aid to cities and towns.

Conversely, House Minority Leader Larry Cafero said he was disappointed in Rell, a fellow Republican, and charged the budget simply put off the tough decisions. The budget does borrow $1 billion and relies heavily on federal stimulus funds—money that presumably won’t be there in future years to maintain services.

State senators are not getting away clean, however. They failed to act on an extension of the real estate conveyance tax, an important source of revenue for cities and towns. They will likely come back in special session in June to take care of the oversight.

Some of the leading candidates for governor panned the budget, knowing future deficits could possibly end up in their laps. Democrat Dan Malloy said the legislature and the governor didn’t make the tough choices. “Instead, it relies on quick fixes—such as once again raiding the state employees’ pension fund—that do nothing but put off our problems until after the next Governor is sworn in,” said Malloy who, of course, hopes that’s him.
Tom Foley, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, said, “The legislature has passed the buck to the next governor and ignored the financial problems facing our state.”

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As the investigation into the botched terror attack in Manhattan’s Times Square plays out, news organizations couldn’t help themselves and now have a clever little rhyme to use when introducing stories on the subject: “Terror Scare in Times Square.” There are only some many times The Shad can hear that without thinking, “A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts!”

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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The American Civil Liberties Union and American United for the Separation of Church and State have their cassocks in a bunch because the Enfield Board of Education is trying to be practical in finding a facility for graduation ceremonies and want to hold it at First Cathedral Church in Bloomfield which has plenty of room and plenty of parking.

Their lawsuit could really complicate next month’s activities as it seeks an injunction directing the school board to move the ceremonies.

Until someone can explain how holding graduation ceremonies in a church for practical reasons constitutes “an establishment of religion,” the endorsement of one religion over another or even an unnecessary entanglement of state and religion, The Shad thinks these national groups should butt out and let the elected officials of Enfield decide what they want to do.