The failed veto session on June 25 was a charade perpetrated by the Democrats that run the legislature on state taxpayers, public school teachers, parents and those who value honest government.
By calling lawmakers back to Hartford the majority party falsely signaled that it was interested in overriding at least some of the seven bills that Gov. Malloy rejected with the stroke of his pen. All of the legislation – making schools safer, scaling back the Hartford bailout deal, extending tax credits to manufacturers and preserving education for towns and cities – initially passed with veto-proof margins in both the House and Senate.
There was reasonable expectation that the vetoes could, and would, be overridden. After several hours of caucusing and waiting around a few votes were taken but nothing was accomplished. Only one bill, the safeguarding of Education Cost Sharing formula money, made it out of the House with the required two-thirds majority vote only to die in the Senate with the rest of the legislation.
So what happened? In each instance Democrats chose politics over public policy. They could have joined with Republicans to make schools safer by putting in place a structure that would make it easier for teachers to expel dangerous and disruptive students intent on doing them harm. We heard from scores of teachers who pleaded with lawmakers to override the governor’s veto. We heard the case of one nine-months pregnant teacher who was assaulted in her classroom.
Perhaps the most egregious and deceitful act on our colleagues’ part involved the controversial bailout of the City of Hartford. The detailed terms of the deal were negotiated in secret this spring and thrust upon state taxpayers who now find themselves on the hook to pay off all of Hartford’s outstanding debt for the next 20 years. The total cost is expected to exceed $500 million.
Legislative leaders, in negotiating the bipartisan budget last fall, never contemplated the length and enormity of the deal struck by Gov. Malloy and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. The bailout was to only cover the two-year biennial budget, or so we thought.
Democratic leaders insisted they never knew the details of the deal and when they became clear publicly distanced themselves from them. The restrictions on the bailout were approved in regular session by a 105-45 margin in the House. Only 101 votes were needed to overturn the governor’s veto.
House Republicans would have easily supplied the necessary votes for overrides of any and all of the bills. In the end we can only conclude that our colleagues had no intention of righting a wrong.
The joint rules that govern the General Assembly’s decorum and actions during legislative debate do not allow for lawmakers to question others’ motives. But those responsible for this expensive waste of time need to be held accountable for their actions.
And now they can explain to their constituents that they voted against Gov. Malloy before they voted with him.
House Republican Leader State Rep. Themis Klarides lives in Derby.