Connecticut Governor's Legislative Agenda Shocks State and Awes Unions

Some media outlets in the state of Connecticut, as well as residents, are questioning the judgment of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, who is leading his Democratic-led state legislature on a whirlwind drive of dubious legislation that is creating an atmosphere of insecurity, and making the prospects of more private business and jobs in the state increasingly less likely. Questions of concern, if not outright criticism, are being drawn from state residents and conservative Republicans who view much of the legislation passed as rushed through, without sufficient debate, and endangering an already extremely vulnerable business climate in a state in which unemployment is over 9%.

Governor Malloy's legislative agenda appears to be right out of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid "every day another stunning bill" play book. And much of the legislation seems, in one way or another, connected to Mr. Malloy's close relationship with the public sector unions which worked hard to elect him.

The legislature passed the largest tax hike in the history of the state, and then secured a deal, though still "tentative," with union leaders for $1.6 billion of the $2 billion in concessions needed to close the state's budget gap. Many are skeptical of the "concessions," since it appears little was really given up, from the private sector perspective, and the package relies heavily upon retirements. In addition, the governor said he would make up the difference primarily with spending cuts. However, in true Pelosi-Reid "let's pass the bill on Christmas Eve" fashion, Mr. Malloy gave the news to lawmakers, Friday night before Memorial Day weekend, that he would, instead, make up the remaining hole in the budget with none other than projected "surplus" monies. Thus, the "surplus" is only to help the unions, who apparently couldn't reach their $2 billion goal, not the taxpayers, who are bearing the brunt of the "shared sacrifice."

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According to a media blog of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, the General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which Governor Malloy said he would implement for his state, would erase 2012 projected surpluses which he and the state legislature are now relying upon to balance their two-year budget.



Sheila Weinberg, Founder and CEO of the Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA), which recently presented a report on Connecticut's finances, has said that the state's use of "political math" and "manipulation of the numbers" is "the worst in the nation." These comments are in response to the legislature's recent passage of the largest tax hike in the history of the state, which not only includes increases in current taxes as well as new taxes, but also an income tax increase which is retroactive to January 1, 2011. Mr. Malloy's budget assigns that retroactive revenue to the 2012 budget year, whereas under GAAP, the revenue would have been put toward the 2011 fiscal year.

Among the plethora of legislation passed, the Constitution state is the first in the nation to enact mandatory paid sick leave for employees of some private businesses with 50 or more employees. Although the Democrats have been touting their bill primarily as a public health benefit for restaurant customers, who otherwise could be exposed to sick restaurant workers who won't take a day off because they won't get paid, the bill never originated in, nor even was reviewed by, the legislature's Public Health committee. The Labor and Public Employees committee, led by Democratic and Working Families Party state senator, Edith Prague, initiated the bill which, according to her, "allows people to take a paid sick day if they're sick, if their child is sick, if their spouse is sick."

The Connecticut state legislature has also passed its version of the "Dream Act," which gives illegal aliens the same tuition discounts, to state colleges and universities, that are given to legal state residents.

A "transgender rights" bill includes “gender identity or expression” as a protected characteristic along with race, national origin, sex and other attributes under current state law. Republican lawmakers were alarmed that Democrats dismissed their amendment that would have exempted separate bathrooms and locker rooms, based on gender- a concern for parents who worry about sexual predators who might cross-dress simply to gain access to young children in public bathrooms.

Another controversial "Early Release for Prisoners" bill allows prison inmates to be set free early for good behavior behind bars. The new policy states that inmates, even those convicted of rape, kidnapping, arson, first-degree manslaughter, assault of a pregnant woman, having sex with someone under the age of 13, and assault of a blind or disabled person, can earn 60 days a year and could eventually cut about three years off a 20-year sentence.

Dozens of online retailers are now following through with their threat to cut ties with Connecticut after its passage of an "Amazon tax" bill. The retailers, which have no physical presence in the state but do enter advertising relationships with about 2,800 Connecticut-based websites and affiliate marketers, would be required to collect a 6.35 percent sales tax from customers, according to the new law.

Then, there is the new legislation that will merge the Freedom of Information (FOI) commission with other state "watchdog agencies" under a newly created super-agency. Mitchell Pearlman, a retired executive director and general counsel of the state's Freedom of Information Commission, charged that the merger will be disastrous for freedom of information in the state, preventing the independence of the FOI that is necessary to allow individual citizens the ability to enforce their legal right to transparency of public documents.

At a recent Democratic fundraiser, Mr. Malloy was hailed by Democratic and union leaders for his open solidarity with organized labor. "In Connecticut," he said, "we are pursuing a road in a different direction than 49 other states." The governor, who refers to himself as the "Anti-Christie," the polar opposite of New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie, asserted, "Individuals in this country who would tear down labor in Wisconsin and Ohio ... or are unfriendly to labor, who are unfriendly to the middle class, they're un-American."

Note the governor's apparent belief that only organized labor is "the middle class." The private sector "middle class" is just... chopped liver?

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