Thursday, June 7, 2007

Game Over: Connecticut Residents Lose

At 12:01 a.m. this morning, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz's shrill and nasal tone reverberated throughout the chamber of the State House of Representatives, in the ceremonial conclusion of the 2007 regular session of the Connecticut General Assembly as it adjourned sine die. "God save the State of Connecticut," she concluded. It was the end of one of the worst sessions in history in terms of having nothing significant accomplished, despite a Democratic supermajority that could have theoretically steamrollered the Republican minority and manipulated Governor Rell into capitulation. But that's not what happened. Perhaps God did save us.

Under the inept and aimless leadership of Democrat House Speaker James Amann and Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, 24 Democratic Senators and 107 Democratic House members could not hang together to deliver anything of significance to the voters who had sent them there. The most notable failure was the inability to craft a budget.

We started out with a session virtually guaranteeing a tax increase. Governor Rell proposed one, and the Democrats proposed an even bigger one. House Republicans completely changed the landscape by offering a 'No Tax Increase' budget that utilized the nearly $1 billion in surplus funds this year to keep tax rates where they were, while making important commitments to education, transportation infrastructure, and not cutting one penny from state services or programs. Governor Rell soon fell in line with House Republicans, backing a plan without tax increases.

But Democrats would have none of it. They aimed to squander the surplus, and raise taxes another $1 billion on top of it, while incredulously claiming they were "cutting taxes for 95%" of taxpayers, a claim later demonstrated as false by the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Then there was the House GOP proposal for a Gas Tax Holiday, eliminating the 25 cent per gallon state gas tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Amann blustered with tough talk... it was a "gimmick"... it saved only "pennies"... it "jeopardized our bond rating" for transportation projects. He refused to allow the proposal to even be debated, and then finally, incredulously suggested that lowering gas prices helped terrorists.

Amann then put the gas tax cut in a dummy tax increase proposal destined for a veto, thinking himself clever because House Republicans had to vote against it to prevent the massive tax hikes. Ultimately, Democrats were on the record three times opposing tax relief this summer for motorists.... once in the Finance Committee, and twice in the chamber.

The job remains undone, and a special session for the budget looms. Will Democrats get their way and force through a tax increase?

Then there was energy reform, promised after price locks in the 1998 deregulation bill expired causing rates to skyrocket. Amann promised "Energize Connecticut" would wow us in January. We didn't see anything until June, and what we got will do little in the long run, and nothing in the short term.

The most fascinating story of this session is House Republicans. Reduced to 44 members after the 2006 election, this group could have been demoralized, insignificant and inconsequential. Instead, the re-energized GOP dominated the debate under new leader Larry Cafero and this caucus had greater vision, dedication, drive and effectiveness than it has in a very long time. And the taxpayers of the State of Connecticut have benefited.

Democrats were unable to work together. House Democrats fought Senate Democrats, and each Democratic caucus fought among themselves. There were gross missteps in communication, no leadership and no discipline.

There's still a special session, as well as a regular session in 2008 before we have a chance to elect more Republicans. In the meantime, God save us undeed.

10 comments:

ConnecticutYankeeInFlorida said...

I just hope the GOP will get some new players for 2008. The Republicans do control (at the moment) about half the towns, so lets see if we can get the mayors, and first selectmen to go to Hartford.
The house lost some GOP seats from what I've seen, including Goggins seat in Glastonbury, but I think with someone who can make a difference, that seat could swing back.
Connecticut - and Northeastern - Republicans are NOT that difference from Florida Republicans. Yes, socially, Northeasterners are more towards the center (And I know that because I'm a bit left of the GOP here - and I was a little more conservative in Connecticut), but fiscally and on the war on Terror you are conservatives.
I would love to see what Jody could do with a GOP MAJORITY -- that would be great for the state!

Headless Horseman said...

Yes, quite true CYIF...
We lost almost every open Republican seat in 2006. In fact the only open seat retained in the House by Republicans was Bob Ward's seat, which was held by Vincent Candelora.

There are a number of seats we SHOULD have... all the Fairfield area ones once held by Cathy (and Paul) Tymniak, Ken Bernhard, Jack Stone, Carl Dickman... there are also south central ones we should have like Steve Fontana's seat in North Haven, or Deb Heinrich's in Madison which was held for so long by Republican Peter Metz. And I'd find it hard to believe that that greasy pork rind Peter Panaroni couldn't be dislodged in Branford...

You touched on an important part of the issue... and that's developing a better bench of candidates. That needs to be a primary goal. We can't win seats without good candidates.

Robert said...

Indeed. But considering what the press does to public servants, and what corrupt politicians do to the honest ones, both in reputation and behind closed doors, no one wants to run unless theya re a political Ken Doll. And I can't say I blame them.

Headless Horseman said...

A very good point Robert. The state of play in all politics is lowbrow. Holding public office subjects one to enormous scrutiny, where every aspect of your life is repeatedly dissected and analyzed, by your opponents and the media.

Many good people just don't want the hassle.

Also, the legislature's schedule makes service difficult for many who can't afford to allow their businesses or jobs to take a backseat during a session.

It all makes finding those good candidates all the harder.

mccommas said...

All true.

But the great untold story about this past session has been how the liberal Democrat Supermajority has with bill after bill openly violated the Bill of Rights.

Donny Williams Speech Code/ State run censorship Board bill, gun rights, freedom of religion etc.

Our liberal newspapers have been derelict in their duty to report these criminal invasions on our constitutional rights.

nomorebureaucracy said...

Headless, I love your blog and your posts. Even though the CT Legislature is full of D's, more progressive ones now than before (ugh!!), the R's made a very good decision this past session. Not to be quiet. Larry Cafero and his fellow leaders had the D's up against the ropes from opening day. The House R's were not going to just sit back and take it on the chin anymore.

With next year an election year, we won't see much from the D's that is too controversial, And I for one, sincerely believe the people of Connecticut will be better off because of that!!!

What the R's in both the House and Senate need to do is make the most of the lackluster leadership of the D's. Sen. Williams might be out as Pres. (Just a hunch, he stepped into that role when JGR left, nothing much too him as a leader). And Amann, well he stepped in something else, his mouth!!! (How many times did he look like a fool)? Watch the D’s battle for leadership and watch Rep. Cafero sit back, strategize and then capitalize.

Headless Horseman said...

Thanks NMB!
You make a good point in that next year we probably won't see any controversy, but we'll probably see plenty of dumb Amann-isms. I hope they're keeping track... that last one about high gas prices fighting terror was priceless.

David said...

"We started out with a session virtually guaranteeing a tax increase. Governor Rell proposed one, and the Democrats proposed an even bigger one."

Sorry, but Rell's proposed tax increases were much bigger than the Democrats' proposed increases.

Rell's proposed a large income tax increase for EVERYONE. I think that would be considered a bigger burden then an income tax increase for only the rich, and a cigarette and clothing tax.

Headless Horseman said...

Uhh... WRONG David.

While Rell's income tax increase was big and was across the board, and I haven't even the most remote inclination to defend the package she came out with, Democrats had over $800 million more in taxes than Rell's budget.

What the Dems gave away to lower income brackets through income tax relief, they immediately took back with increases on taxes on sales and services including eliminating the exemption from the income tax for clothing under $50. Do you suggest that this elimination only sticks it to the rich? Hell no... it goes right to the middle class.

ConnecticutYankeeInFlorida said...

Headless Horseman said...
Yes, quite true CYIF...
We lost almost every open Republican seat in 2006. In fact the only open seat retained in the House by Republicans was Bob Ward's seat, which was held by Vincent Candelora.

There are a number of seats we SHOULD have... all the Fairfield area ones once held by Cathy (and Paul) Tymniak, Ken Bernhard, Jack Stone, Carl Dickman... there are also south central ones we should have like Steve Fontana's seat in North Haven, or Deb Heinrich's in Madison which was held for so long by Republican Peter Metz. And I'd find it hard to believe that that greasy pork rind Peter Panaroni couldn't be dislodged in Branford...

You touched on an important part of the issue... and that's developing a better bench of candidates. That needs to be a primary goal. We can't win seats without good candidates.

Headless:

I know that some of the freshman Ds in Republican districts (Sonya Goggins in Glastonbury is another?) could be knocked off in 2008. However, Connecticut's Republicans needs to look at Florida - where we just created a TAX DECREASE - the biggest DECREASE in the USA.
I think if Connecticut wants to keep jobs and citizens, the Republicans needs to wake up and start telling the citizens that the MOVING BUSINESS won't be the only business thriving in Connecticut. As Rush say, 'CONSERVATIVES will win AGAINST a LIBERAL' And he is true. The Senate seat of Pomfret's senator, Don Williams, need to have someone to run against him and say that William helped CREATE the INCOME TAX.
I would wonder what would happen if someone came up with 'A CONTRACT WITH CONNECTICUT' that would say the INCOME TAX will be REPEALED!



nomorebureaucracy said...
Headless, I love your blog and your posts. Even though the CT Legislature is full of D's, more progressive ones now than before (ugh!!), the R's made a very good decision this past session. Not to be quiet. Larry Cafero and his fellow leaders had the D's up against the ropes from opening day. The House R's were not going to just sit back and take it on the chin anymore.

With next year an election year, we won't see much from the D's that is too controversial, And I for one, sincerely believe the people of Connecticut will be better off because of that!!!

What the R's in both the House and Senate need to do is make the most of the lackluster leadership of the D's. Sen. Williams might be out as Pres. (Just a hunch, he stepped into that role when JGR left, nothing much too him as a leader). And Amann, well he stepped in something else, his mouth!!! (How many times did he look like a fool)? Watch the D’s battle for leadership and watch Rep. Cafero sit back, strategize and then capitalize.

NMB:

It is time for the Republicans to show that Connecticut citizens that they are serious to help the TAXPAYERS of Connecticut.
If they keep the heat on the Dems next year - and speak up on helping the MIDDLE CLASS, the Republicans might win in 2008.