In a conversation with North Haven Patch, Sen. Len Fasano (R-34) termed the General Assembly’s special session that began last Tuesday evening and ended early Wednesday morning “a shock and a surprise.”
“It was shocking,” he said. “We did one hundred [initiatives] that otherwise were not taken care of during regular session. Forty of those 100 never even had a public hearing.”
The special session expanded dramatically when the majority Democrats introduced two omnibus policy bills—one 468-pages long and the second nearly 200-pages long, with, according to Fasano, a one hundred page summary.
The larger bill passed 88-53 in the House, with every Republican and four Democrats opposed and the second passed 84-46 along party lines. Both passed along strictly party lines in the Senate early Wednesday morning.
“To suggest that the public knew what was going on was very disingenuous,” Fasano said.
The senator acknowledged that “a few good bills were tucked in there,” such as the energy audit and also a measure from this session’s job bill that launches a program to subsidize a business’ cost of hiring unemployed veterans for the first 180 days of a job.
“You could have said there are some bills that are noncontroversial that were held up because time ran out,” he conceded.
Still, Fasano, who serves as the Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore, said the Republican leadership had asked to be “a part of the conversation.”
Yet the first time the Republicans heard of the topics for the special session, Fasano said, was the Friday before; the first time the Republicans saw a proposal was Monday at mid-day and the first time the Republicans saw the legislation and its 100-page summary was Tuesday at noon.
Of the $20.5 billion budget the General Assembly passed, Fasano said, “We recognize that it’s their budget. That’s fair game.”
Yet he termed the budget that was adopted “a bad budget. We increased spending. He [Gov. Dannel Malloy] did some budget gimmicks. He spends more than in the prior year. He’s playing games and doing things he said he wouldn’t do.”
While acknowledging that the governor inherited a $3.7 billion deficit when he took office in January of 2011, Fasano noted that the budget the Assembly passed takes $200 million from an appropriation legislated to cover a deficit back in 2009, and that it borrows from teachers’ health care plans for payments to teachers’ health care plans.
“It’s crazy, gimmickry stuff,” he said.
“We’re in a bad economy. We’ve been downgraded once. It wouldn’t surprise me if Moody’s downgraded us again,” he said.
“Now, he doesn’t make the debt payment,” Fasano said, referring to the re-appropriation of the $200 million, “and he’s spending more.”
Fasano said, “The economy didn’t come back, sales tax revenue is slightly up, personal income is down, and businesses are leaving the state.
Fasano said that less than three weeks ago Denise Napier, the state treasurer, said the state didn’t have enough money to pay bills. "That’s a serious financial problem,” he observed.
“Until the state wakes up and decides to spend less we’re not going to get back in line.”