Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford mark pazniokas / file photo
Sen. Beth Bye
Sen. Beth Bye mark pazniokas / file photo

A family illness is prompting Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, to give up her position as co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, one of the most demanding committee assignments in the General Assembly.

Bye said her wife, Tracey Wilson, a retired school teacher, has cancer and will need her support during treatment.

“I just can’t do Appropriations any more,” Bye said Monday. “It’s five times as much work as any other committee.”

Bye said she informed Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, of her decision Monday. No successor was named.

“Leading the Appropriations Committee takes an incredible amount of time, energy and skill,” Looney said. “During difficult budget negotiations Sen. Bye never lost sight of the people behind the numbers and how state policy can truly make a difference in the lives of our residents. Her continued leadership in the caucus will be invaluable to the Senate.”

Bye, who was re-elected on Nov. 8 to her fourth term in the Senate, will remain a legislator and accept an assignment as co-chair of another committee.

Her decision adds an element of uncertainty to what promises to be a challenging session in 2017. Legislators face a projected budget shortfall of more than $1.3 billion in the coming fiscal year, and the Senate will be evenly divided, 18-18.

Bye became co-chair of Appropriations after Toni Harp was elected mayor of New Haven in 2013 and resigned from the Senate. Her tenure has been marked by an era of difficult budgets.

She and Wilson married on Nov. 12, 2008, becoming the first gay couple to wed after same-sex marriage was legalized in Connecticut.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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