Welcome to The Hartford Portfolio, Yankee Institute’s update on what’s happening at the State Capitol during the legislative session. This year is known as a “long session” because it generally runs from January to June in odd-numbered years.
Due to the tragic loss of Rep. Quentin ‘Q’ Williams on Wednesday legislative leaders closed the State Capitol Thursday and Friday. Meetings will resume next week. Yankee Institute joins the rest of Connecticut in mourning his death. We pray for his family and love ones during these hard times.
Will Promises Be Kept?
The 2023 Legislative Session kicked off on Wednesday, Jan. 4. In a joint session of the General Assembly, Gov. Ned Lamont gave his annual State of the State address where he proclaimed the state’s fiscal crisis is over. He said, “It’s over as long as we maintain the same fiscal discipline that served us so well over the last four years.”
Lamont went to make a few sensible and welcoming promises: he called for “a reduction in tax rates which the state can afford and makes life more affordable;” Recognizing that costs are on the rise for health care, energy and housing he proclaimed that subsidies and bailouts are not the answer, noting that taxpayers cannot afford them.
Tackling the high cost and housing shortage is a major agenda item for the governor, who voiced his support of local control in determining how and where homes will be built.
While the state is sitting on a ‘rainy day’ fund worth more than $3 billion and a projected $444.6 million General Fund surplus for fiscal year 2023, progressive groups like Recovery for All CT will be applying pressure to the governor and lawmakers to spend this money.
Recovery for All (RFA) is a coalition made up of labor unions, faith-based and social groups and is demanding lawmakers “use the state’s budget surplus to fully fund services our struggling communities need and reduce Connecticut’s extreme racial, economic, and gender inequities.”
RFA is also encouraging its members to meet at the State Capitol, Jan. 19th for the launch of their “Equity Agenda” where they will call on lawmakers to invest more in public schools, colleges, childcare, healthcare, mental health and addiction services. They want funding to come from tax increases for the wealthy.
Time will tell if the governor will keep his promises of fiscal responsibility and tax breaks — or if he will give in to political pressure.
Forget What You Learned From “Schoolhouse Rock”
If you learned about how a bill becomes a law from “Schoolhouse Rock,” Connecticut’s system may be a bit confusing. Instead of fully formed bills, lawmakers introduce “concepts” that can be as little as a single sentence and provide little information about the bill’s final direction. Members of the public can testify about the bill — or at least, what they think the bill is about — before it’s been written. Committees vote on whether to expand each concept bill, though the final bill language occasionally doesn’t match what was imagined when the public offered testimony.
Concepts raised this week address many of the issues our state faces, including maintaining the bonding cap, early voting, the housing shortage, educational funding and healthcare costs. Because these are all in the concept stage, information on how these bills will help — or hurt — the state aren’t fully developed (or, more bluntly, the information does not exist yet).
CT Secretary of the State Makes Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files” Reveal
When Elon Musk purchased Twitter last October, he announced that he would release internal documents that showed the suppression of free speech by the social media giant. The “Twitter Files” have since been published in batches and revealed that Twitter, the FBI and other government agencies have been in cahoots in getting accounts removed and canceled from Twitter.
In one file dump, an email dated Oct. 26, 2020, from the CT Secretary of the State’s (SOTS) office to Twitter (with the FBI cc’d) was flagged by Musk’s team. The subject “Fake Twitter Accounts” reported that the SOTS “came across some suspicious accounts that are ostensibly CT-based and attempting to look officialish.”
It is unknown, right now, which accounts were flagged and whether the tweets were canceled.