April 2nd, 2018
Welcome to In the Loop!

From Paddi's Desk

A short week and even shorter tempers.

Last week was not one of the better moments for the Connecticut Legislature or the Governor. It was the final action needed to approve the Governor's choice of Chief Justice of CT's State Supreme Court - it brought tense moments to bear, and it did not go well.

Not for Justice McDonald or the Governor or the Senators - both Democratic and Republican. A month ago when the Governor nominated Justice McDonald, there were plenty of legislators who were uncertain of his appointment as the head of the Judiciary based on their interactions with him when he was Senate Co-Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Other uncertainties were based on philosophical differences on several cases McDonald heard, when many thought he should have recused himself, or on the fact that many see him as an activist jurist. Then, there's the fact that the Governor kept bringing up his personal lifestyle.

Just to update you - yesterday the nomination failed in the Senate 19-16, with one Democratic Senator recusing herself for personal reasons and another Democratic Senator, Joan Hartley from Waterbury, voting with the 18 Republican Senators against the nomination. Leading up to this vote, the Governor made a very matter-of-fact, personal appeal at a quickly called media conference, once word leaked out that there were no "Yes" votes on the Republican side of the circle. This came even after the Governor continued with his firm and pointed criticism of the Republicans' bias towards Justice McDonald.

What has turned into an extremely partisan attack on Republicans has some interesting facts that don't play with the narrative being painted. Very few people are talking about the one Democratic Representative in the Judiciary Committee who voted against the nomination, which made it an "unfavorable" action as it came to the House and Senate. Very few people are talking about the five Democrats who voted against the nomination in the House when one Republican voted in favor of the nomination - keeping it alive for the Senate to take action. When two Democratic Senators don't vote in favor, it's all about the Republicans and McDonald's personal life.

It is not fair to Justice McDonald, it is not fair to the struggling bipartisan atmosphere created during last fall's budget negotiations and it is definitely not fair for the remaining 29 days the legislature has in order to complete its work for 2018. What already is a short session now will be a short session with a whole host of minefields to maneuver, in order to take care of the state's needs.  

Today, during a committee meeting, you could almost see the bipartisan atmosphere disappear. What has been a very "we're all in this together" committee process seemed to turn a corner as members from one party started to pull apart agreed-upon agenda items to debate and even poke fun at them during a committee meeting. In fact, one agenda item had passed the House last session 126-0, but was being shredded as a direct insult on a particular former legislator. Not pretty.

We are all hoping that, with the Passover and Easter break, the tensions will escape the building, and in the spirit of Easter and Passover, "new beginnings" and a "renewal" will take us to adjournment day - May 9th.

CT Agency Corner   

Subcommittee Reports In but Jury Out on What This Week Will Bring

by Mike Johnson

The legislative Appropriations subcommittees over state agency budgets have finalized their recommendations, but the questions still remain: (1) if a budget will pass next week and (2) if it does, if it will be balanced with the new estimated deficit numbers.

The legislature relies on these subcommittee reports to determine the levels of spending each state agency should be allocated for their programs, and they are in-large produced as very bipartisan products. That said, the subcommittee reports would still need to be carried over as a complete budget proposal in order to be adopted as an alternative to the Governor's proposed budget.

Last year brought a tremendously difficult stand still to the budget writing process after the Appropriations Committee didn't even vote on a spending plan during the committee stage. In addition, they also saw a Finance Committee package pass that wouldn't have raised enough revenue to solve the budget hole that ended up passing in October. The legislature relies on both of these proposed budgets as a standard to compare to the Governor's proposal and both sides end up negotiating these bills extensively through the May 9th deadline for the end of session.

Since it is an election year, there is a very strong likelihood that a budget battle wouldn't roll into the summer months since legislators will need to begin campaigning. Next week will be an important sign as to how the legislature will handle this critical first test.
Did You Know?

This Week in History

U.S. Withdraws from Vietnam, 1973

Two months after the signing of the Vietnam peace agreement, the last U.S. combat troops leave South Vietnam as Hanoi frees the remaining American prisoners of war held in North Vietnam. America's direct eight-year intervention in the  Vietnam War was at an end. In Saigon, some 7,000 U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees remained behind to aid South Vietnam in conducting what looked to be a fierce and ongoing war with communist North Vietnam.

In the spring of 1969, as protests against the war escalated in the United States, U.S. troop strength in the war-torn country reached its peak at nearly 550,000 men. Richard Nixon, the new U.S. president, began U.S. troop withdrawal and " Vietnamization" of the war effort that year, but he intensified bombing. 

Finally, in January 1973, representatives of the United States, North and South Vietnam, and the Vietcong signed a peace agreement in Paris, ending the direct U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War. 

In reality, however, the agreement was little more than a face-saving gesture by the U.S. government. Even before the last American troops departed on March 29, the communists violated the cease-fire, and by early 1974 full-scale war had resumed. At the end of 1974, South Vietnamese authorities reported that 80,000 of their soldiers and civilians had been killed in fighting during the year, making it the most costly of the Vietnam War.

On April 30, 1975, the last few Americans still in South Vietnam were airlifted out of the country as Saigon fell to communist forces. North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin, accepting the surrender of South Vietnam later in the day, remarked, "You have nothing to fear; between Vietnamese there are no victors and no vanquished. Only the Americans have been defeated." The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular foreign war in U.S. history and cost 58,000 American lives. As many as two million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed.
In This Issue:
The Real Scoop

It's 2018 so you know what that means, election year! After the 2016 Presidential election, there was lots of discussion and discourse over how we elect the President of the United States.

What model is best? Our current model of the Electoral College or national popular vote compact by each state? Connecticut was hoping to get legislation passed this session enacting said compact, but to no avail. 

Would this type of compact actually help the issues voter right activists are fighting for? 

Read more  here.


by Ryan Bingham

Last week, bond ratings and bond payments were on the mind of many municipal leaders.

Connecticut's cities and towns will continue to feel pressure based on exposure to fiscal uncertainties and adverse economic demographic trends, according to a new report released by Moody's Investors Service this week. Town and cities differ greatly on how severe this financial stress will be impact their budgets.  

Fairfield County, according to the report, will have a smaller impact due to their stable tax bases versus cities like Hartford, New Britain and Waterbury. "Connecticut local governments receive a median 68 percent of revenues from property taxes, 20 percent from the state and 12 percent from other sources," according to Joe Manoleas who is a Moody's analyst and author of the report. "Towns and cities with less reliance on state funding are less vulnerable to the financial and political swings of the state and therefore have more financial flexibility than peers with a greater reliance on the state."

Some local economies benefit from the defense industry and proximity to NYC, corporate out-migration remains a challenge, according to the report. Further exasperating the issue is Connecticut's population loss, which is down from 2014-2016, and its older median age are negative demographic trends. 

Many jumped on the opportunity for political purposes or to push for certain legislation currently being considered in the legislature.  For example, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) suggested that if the state considered the proposals put forward by the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth would stabilize Connecticut's economy.

Behind the Scenes

By Chelsea Neelon

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with with Representative Jay Case of the 63rd House District to hear more about his time as a legislator and some thoughts on the 2018 legislative session. 

What are some of your legislative priorities for the  session?
- My legislative priority this year is the state budget, and trying to get the state back on track. I have not submitted any bills to any committees because I have been working diligently to help close to deficit and what we have going forward to 2019 and 2020.

What legislation are you most proud of getting passed?
- Basically working with the IDD population (individuals with developmental disabilities) and helping to get them monies needed to fray the waiting list and getting them services.

What is your favorite memory as a legislator?
- As a legislator, most people don't really see what happens on a personal level when it comes to helping constituents and people in need, especially those who don't have the means to do it. One of my greatest things was helping a constituent get a double lung transplant through state insurance after he was receiving a lot of resistance. And he is 100% percent today!

What is your favorite late night session snack?
- To be honest with you, I like to stick with a bottle of water. I know it's not a snack, but you have to stay hydrated!

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