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Friday, August 01, 2003

Westport State Sen. Judith Freedman

The bipartisan vote, 26-8, gave final legislative approval to the deal, five weeks into the new fiscal year that began July 1. All 20 Democrats present voted for the bill. Eight Republicans voted against it.

Two of the 36 members were absent.

Freedman, whose district includes Westport as well as the communities, or portions of the communities, of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, and Wilton, did not respond to a request to comment. (See update below.)

Press reports from Hartford indicated that Republican Party leaders, under pressure from the majority Democrats, pressured a number of their members to vote with the majority so the budget would be seen as truly bipartisan.

The bill, which passed the House of Representatives Wednesday night, now goes to Gov. John G. Rowland, but he won’t receive it for about 10 days.

During that time, lawmakers plan to finish the legislation that spells out of the details of the budget - equally reviled by rank-and-file members of both parties.

Rowland said he won’t sign the budget until he receives the so-called budget implementation bills and the proposed bonding package, yet to be discussed.

Like in the House, few in the Senate had compliments for the package. But legislative leaders described the deal as tough medicine in a year when Connecticut faces a $1 billion deficit.

Update (8/2/03): In belated comments to WestportNow, Freedman said: ғI believe we needed to move ahead and get it accomplished without further delay. The Democrats wanted our fingerprints on it or as (Senate president pro tempore) Kevin Sullivan said, to share the blame.ђ

As I said in my comments on the floor, it is the good, the bad and the ugly. Good to have something upon which to act, bad, that we as legislators allowed the process to get so out of control and ugly…because the ugly in the budget far outweighs many of the good items. 

ӓThe work done by all the committees and the time frame we have established in our rules are at this time ineffective. Either we need to rewrite our rules or members and leadership need to adhere to the deadlines, including getting the budget done on time.

We need to outlaw ԑworks in progress.  Either way, the state will gain. At this juncture as we prepare to write the implementers, it may be possible to salvage some good ideas that have gotten lost by the wayside.

“The budget is basically the raw numbers in the various agencies and major programs; the implementers will now direct the agencies specifically on how to spend the money.

ғThe budget is very reliant on some rather iffy assumptions in the second year, and I suspect we will forced to deal with them next February.


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