A great American was laid to rest last week, but there are dozens of issues here and in Washington — including some really big ones — that certainly were not.
Former President George Herbert Walker Bush – a Yale graduate and son of former Connecticut Sen. Prescott Bush –was remembered here and eulogized all week, his body finally buried in College Station, Texas, after nationally televised ceremonies.
He left behind a nation where there are plenty of unsettled issues to deal with in Washington, D.C. and Connecticut.
In Connecticut, Gov.-elect Ned Lamont is still working on building an administration; and Tuesday named hedge fund executive Ryan Drajewicz his chief of staff and, as the new state budget director, Melissa McCaw, Hartford’s finance chief.
The state budget and its huge future projected deficit will likely be the new governor’s (and certainly McCaw’s) biggest challenge, even though state Comptroller Kevin Lembo says a surge in projected income tax receipts will produce an estimated $250 million surplus this year.
But there are plenty of other unresolved issues and still-to-be-implemented plans.
Progressive Democrats in the legislature are setting up their 2019 agenda to address their interest in a $15 minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, and the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The selection of the Democratic Party’s state chairman is also an open question since current chairman Nick Balletto is not on Lamont’s list of best buddies.
Gov. Dannel Malloy is on his way out, but Wednesday was able to claim a little credit for bringing Infosys, a global information technology company, to Hartford where it hopes to hire 1,000 people by 2022, making it eligible for up to $12 million in grants.
After also making considerable strides in reforming Connecticut’s criminal justice system, Malloy would still like to have one other change put in place: expanding the jurisdiction of juvenile courts to include 18- to 20-year-old offenders.
The legislature’s remaining Republicans, meanwhile, have been trying to figure out how they can distance themselves from President Donald Trump, whose unpopularity in Connecticut led them to heavy losses in the last election.
Senate Republican leader Len Fasano had another potentially criminal problem to address, firing his chief counsel, Michael Cronin, who has admitted misappropriating “tens of thousands of dollars” from a Senate Republican caucus PAC.
In Washington, D.C., sentencing briefs filed by Justice Department prosecutors in New York and Special Counsel Robert Mueller opened more widely the can of snakes bedeviling the President, revealing a wide pattern of lies from his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and attorney Michael Cohen about connections to Russian nationals and, in one case, accusing Trump of a felony-level violation of federal election finance laws in his apparent payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Connecticut lawmakers Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th, both weighed in on the matter on national TV broadcasts – Himes observing that “everyone around the president is lying, specifically about Russia.”
Blumenthal (who has questions about the risk to public health potentially posed by 5G technology) said he had concerns about Trump’s naming of former U.S. Attorney General William Barr as the next attorney general, insisting he would demand assurances from Barr that, if appointed, he would not impair the Mueller probe.
Sen. Chris Murphy, meanwhile, after criticizing U.S. News and World Report’s method of ranking colleges, took aim at Trump’s nomination of former Fox News host Heather Nauert as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, calling her “clearly not qualified for this job.”
With Democrats soon to be in control of the U.S. House, gun control activists are hopeful their long-awaited hopes for reform legislation will be answered, Republican majority in the U.S. Senate notwithstanding.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, of course, will not be among the new majority, but is determined to stick out her last days in office in Washington, pushing into law the Women in Aerospace Education Act the president is expected to sign this week.