“It is fortunate that the restrictions Gov. Lamont’s Executive Order outlines for Connecticut’s houses of worship are simply recommendations rather than regulations. Otherwise, they would constitute absolutely impermissible burdens on every Connecticut citizen’s First Amendment rights to free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion – our First Freedom. ...
House Republican leaders say audit hearings are long overdue
Over the past year, Connecticut’s Auditors of Public Accounts have found instances of workplace violence, benefits paid to deceased individuals, abuse of overtime, state agencies that violate both state policy and union contracts and “massive financial reporting errors” in Connecticut’s state agencies.
According to state statute, the Government Administration and Elections Committee and other “committees of cognizance” are supposed to hold hearings regarding auditor reports within 180 days after the report has been made public.
But according to Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, that’s not happening.
House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, and Deputy House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, sent a letter to Senate President Pro-Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, saying 37 audit reports are overdue for legislative hearings and another 33 reports “will need to be heard over the next 180 days.”
“With the publication of each audit report, we grow more and more concerned about the lack of management and control in the operation of state government,” Klarides and Candelora wrote. “The hearings provide transparency to the people of the state, who pay for the state to operate smoothly.”
The House Republican leaders say that while much attention has been paid to problems in Connecticut’s quasi-public agencies, less attention has been directed toward the issues found in audits of state agencies like the Department of Labor and the Department of Agriculture.
“Therefore, we are respectfully requesting that you direct the Chairpersons of the appropriate committees to review their respective agency audits and begin holding public hearings so that we may better understand department deficiencies, as well as measures that the department has taken or will take in the future to resolve the deficiencies,” the letter states.
The letter comes on the heels of a legislative investigation into the Connecticut Port Authority over financial mismanagement that has, thus far, resulted in at least two high-profile resignations. An audit of the Port Authority found further instances of lavish spending on travel, food and legal services.
But audits published this year have also shown that an employee of Charter Oak State College was allowed to telecommute from her new residence in Florida long enough to be vested for Connecticut’s state retirement benefits, accusations of a hostile work environment at the Department of Labor and that the Department of Agriculture had not deposited 170 checks totaling $265,105.
The audits often find agency practices that violate state statutes. Agencies are allowed to respond to the auditors’ findings and generally indicate what corrective measures have either been instituted or will be instituted in the future.
The requirement to hold hearings on audit reports was included in the 2017 budget agreement between both Republicans and Democrats.
“Together, as part of the bipartisan budget of 2017, Republican and Democrats established these hearings as the next step in the process that starts with the excellent work of the State Auditors in identifying and fixing problems in state government,” Klarides and Candelora wrote.
Requests for comment from Sen. Looney and Speaker Aresimowicz were not returned.
**Meghan Portfolio contributed to this article** If it seems like there has been a new executive order from Gov. Ned Lamont every day, you might not be too far off – it’s closer to every other day. Since the public emergency declaration 78 days ago on March 10, Lamont has ...