On Tuesday, February 26, I will be hosting an informational tolls forum with State Rep. Terrie Wood at the Norwalk Inn & Conference Center. The governor has introduced a bill to install electronic highway tolls across the state, which would directly impact our region. Click here for a link to the summary page.
Many of you will have questions, so we have invited the Transportation Committee Ranking Members, State Rep. Laura Devlin and State Sen. Henri Martin, who will give a presentation.
As Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee and member of the Transportation Committee, I will be participating in the public hearings on these matters, and will keep you posted throughout the process.
State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143), House Ranking Member – Appropriations
State Rep. Terrie Wood (R-141), Member – Finance, Revenue & Bonding
State Rep. Laura Devlin (R-134), House Ranking Member – Transportation
State Sen. Henri Martin (R-31), Senate Ranking Member – Transportation
What: Informational Forum on Tolls
Where:Norwalk Inn & Conference Center, 99 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT
When:Tuesday, February 26 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
This event is open to the public, and I encourage you all to attend. If you are unable to make it, but have questions and would like to speak with me privately, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Many of you have been following the developments related to legislation about forced regionalization of school districts. A date for the anticipated public hearing before the Education Committee was confirmed this afternoon, and I wanted to share with you as soon as possible all the available details.
While SB 738, introduced by Sen. Looney, and SB 457, introduced by Sens. Duff and Osten, have been circulating for several weeks, there is now a third bill in the mix. It is a Governor’s Bill, which was released yesterday, when Governor Lamont presented his budget proposal. The new bill is SB 874: An Act Concerning Education Initiatives and Services in Connecticut.
Unlike the first two bills, which are very short concept bills, the governor’s bill is fully drafted and is 32 pages long. Provisions related to regionalization are featured in the first third of the bill. Among other things, the bill creates a Commission on Shared School Services “for the purpose of developing a plan for the redistricting or consolidation of school services and school districts”. Members of the Commission would be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders. They would have until December 2020 to collect data and information and submit a full recommendation for moving ahead on a complete plan for redistricting or consolidation, including “the use of incentives, grants, or tax changes “. The governor’s budget director today confirmed in her presentation before the Appropriations Committee that the bill leaves the possibility of forced regionalization open.
Click on the image below for a video from yesterday’s Appropriations Committee meeting where the governor’s budget director, OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw, discusses SB 874 and its implications for Connecticut schools.
All three of these bills are on the agenda for the public hearing. If your testimony concerns the topic of forced regionalization generally, it’s a good idea to cite all three bill numbers.
Date, Time, Place
The hearing is scheduled:
Friday, March 1
Starting at 1:00 pm
Legislative Office Building, Room 2E
300 Capitol Avenue
Click here for directions to the Legislative Office Building (and parking garage).
Testifying in Person
You may sign up to speak at the hearing starting at 10:00 am in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building. The order is first-come, first-serve. The first hour of testimony is reserved for public officials, and after that, students will be given preference so that they can finish early. Everyone who signs up gets to speak, and the hearing will remain open until there are no more speakers.
You will have three minutes to speak before the Education Committee. If a Committee member asks you a question afterwards, you may take the time you need to answer.
If you are speaking at the hearing, you should also submit written testimony so that it will appear in the public record, in the file of each bill. Legislators often refer to written testimony when they are voting on the House or Senate floor – especially when they have not come across a bill earlier in the session.
Submitting your written testimony:
Email it to the Committee by 3:30 pm on Thursday, February 28
Put your testimony in either a Word document or a pdf
Include the bill number(s), your name, and your town
Attach the document to an email
Put the bill number(s) in the Subject Line of the email
You may of course submit written testimony regardless of whether you are speaking at the hearing.
Testimony from members of the public plays an important role in the development of legislation, and my colleagues and I very much appreciate your participation. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like further details on the bills, the hearing, or the legislative process. I am always happy to hear from you.
Yesterday was the official launch of the state budget process in Hartford, with Governor Lamont presenting his budget proposal to a joint session of the House and Senate in the House chamber. He spoke to us, quite rightly, about Connecticut’s “chronically broken budget” and “fixed costs such as pensions, state employee healthcare and bonded debt – all growing faster than our economy”. He stressed the importance of taking the situation seriously, and of the importance not just of balancing the budget for the coming biennium, but also of making structural changes that will restore the state’s financial health over the long term.
The House was packed with staff, visitors, political figures, and members of the media, who covered the governor’s address and talked to legislators about their reactions.
But something else happened yesterday that the media didn’t cover.
Minutes after the governor’s budget address, we debated approving two state employee union contracts that had come before us in the Appropriations Committee on February 11. When the majority voted to approve these egregiously expensive contracts, the irony was glaring. When it comes to state spending, our job, as legislators, is not to sit on the sidelines. Our job is to be an advocate, not an adversary, for taxpayers. I made that clear on the House floor. And I voted no.
Click on the image below to see a video of my concluding remarks on the House floor.
As Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, I will be heavily involved in the state’s budget process, every day. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to discuss the budget, or any other issue, further.