Extreme political circumstances can inspire extreme counter-measures, and that seemed to be the case when state legislators began reacting to Trump administration policies that rub them the wrong way.
For starters, Connecticut Democrats on the Government Administration and Elections Committee pushed through House Bill 6575, a measure that would bar state electors from voting for any presidential or vice presidential candidate who failed to disclose his or her tax returns for the three previous years. Republicans called it “blatantly political.”
Anyway, if that is what it was, blatant politics seemed to be standard practice. The same nine Democrats backing the tax return disclosure also forwarded a bill to effectively ban so-called “dark money” from Connecticut elections – a step in part motivated by an untraceable donation of $1.17 million to Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley’s campaign in 2014.
The parties sustained a brief truce Tuesday, however, long enough to approve three measures all designed to make the state more competitive in encouraging growth in its bioscience industry. None of the proposals will cost much money, legislators said.
State government’s dire financial situation, of course, has presented governing officials with a number of unpleasant choices, such as whether to raise taxes or reduce funding in a variety of areas, including education, social services and support for working-class families. Leaders of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus say they want to consider raising the income tax on Connecticut’s wealthiest residents – a notion that does not resonate like it used to before Republicans gained seats in both the state House and Senate.
Legislators also would like to soften the blow to municipal budgets potentially caused by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal to make Connecticut’s cities and towns pick up one third the cost of their teacher pensions. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz has suggested phasing in the handoff over the next five years. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and her fellow Republicans favor reducing benefits for public employees.
The Democratic governor’s administration is not at all happy with President Donald Trump’s move to roll back the environmental measures to slow global warming and promote coal. Clean air policies have enjoyed support from both Republican and Democratic governors here; and State Attorney General George Jepsen warned that both he and attorneys general in 15 other states may undertake a legal challenge to Trump’s action.
The governor also says he is sure Connecticut is still in compliance with U.S. immigration law despite warnings from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that so-called “sanctuary” cities and states could lose millions in federal law enforcement grant funds if they do not cooperate fully with U.S. immigration authorities.
State officials are also worried that some 22,000 American-born children could become Connecticut’s problem if their undocumented immigrant parents are deported or detained under the new president’s policy.
In Washington, D.C., meanwhile, where the investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia is mired in a partisan dispute, the Republicans and Democrats are getting along worse than their Connecticut counterparts.
While undeclared for a while, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy announced that he will vote against President Donald Trump’s conservative nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. Sen. Richard Blumenthal waited until Friday to announce his opposition, saying he is not convinced the jurist is not bound by Trump’s anti-abortion litmus test.
Trump cares little for the programs backed by Murphy, Blumenthal and other New England Democrats. He proposes to end funding for the cleanup of Long Island Sound, though Congress is not likely to allow that.
Some less political stuff
Officials at Connecticut’s health insurance exchange have recently changed their rules to allow insurers to sell policies that provide coverage in a more narrow selection of hospitals and doctors – for less money.
The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, on the other hand, need more money; and they propose to get it by increasing in-state tuition by as much as 4 percent in each of the next school years.
There is perhaps money to be made in wind energy, but Connecticut is lagging behind its Northeast neighbors in getting into the industry which eclipsed hydro-electric power for the first time last year.
The Connecticut Mirror has a new publisher. Effective April 10, Bruce Putterman, a marketing consultant and former West Hartford school board chairman, takes over as CTMirror’s CEO. He succeeds former publisher David Daley.