Well, it was as hot as a branding iron last night at the City Council. Tom Mulligan, former council member, dubbed the meetings the Monday night fights, except it was Tuesday, a special session to vote on the budget, and the fireworks did not disappoint. Thank you John from Black Rock and City Kitty for your eyeball observations in prior commentary. And welcome back MCAT.
The full council officially voted on the spending package forwarded by the Budget and Appropriations Committee, restoring the job cuts and dropping the tax increase a smidge that was included in Bill Finch’s first budget.
Council member Bob Walsh was in rare form (or should we say typical) leading protesters in chants against Finch’s campaign promises. Hopefully, The Troll will check in to give us his perspective on barbecuing Bronco Billy.
Unless Finch changes his mind and tinkers with the budget, as charter allows, the nearly $500 million spending package the council approved will begin July 1. It’s a tough budget, but better than the time bomb Finch submitted. I wonder if Finch wishes he were back in the state senate.
Tonight the Fairfield County Weekly hosts its annual Best Of party at the Fairfield Theater Company. I’ll be there, of course, to pick up the kudos for Best Blog category. Thank you, everyone. Once again, more than 1,000 page views on Tuesday. Kudos, also, to our friend Joan Nutmeg whose Bridgeport In The Know placed runner-up.
We’ll have our own OIB party Thursday, 6 p.m., Captain’s Cove. No awards, just cocktails, munchies and a little verbal needling. Looks like nice weather.
I’m an idiot. What did I predict, that the price of a gallon of gas in Connecticut would smack $4 by July 1? Forget that, we’re headed for $5 a gallon. Go buy a scooter. See press release from Congressman Chris Shays below:
Shays Supports Suspending Petroleum Acquisition for the SPR
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Christopher Shays (CT-4) today voted for H.R. 6022, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Fill Suspension and Consumer Protection Act, when it passed the House by a vote of 385 to 25. This legislation would temporarily suspend oil shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) through 2008.
On April 23, 2008, Shays joined eight of his colleagues in writing to Speaker Nancy Pelosi encouraging her to consider this legislation.
“Like millions of Americans, I am concerned about the high cost of gasoline,” said Shays. “Today, in my home town of Bridgeport, the average cost of regular gas hit an all-time high of $4.03. That is a full 50 cent increase in just one month.”
“I am hopeful temporarily suspending shipments to the SPR will lessen world-wide demand for oil and help reduce the cost of fuel at home,” Shays continued. “This short term measure, however, will not cure us of our oil addiction. We must develop a long-term energy plan to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil, protect the environment, build a market for renewable energy, and promote energy conservation.”
State Senator Rob Russo received the endorsement last night from fellow Republicans to seek a full two-year term in November. Russo, winner of the seat vacated by Bill Finch, is expected to be challenged by Democrat Anthony Musto. See excerpt of Russo acceptance speech below:
Just three short months ago – 105 days to be exact – we all gathered here for the convention that led to me being elected as your State Senator.
In that brief, but intense campaign I talked about Connecticut being too expensive. About our businesses being smothered in taxes and regulation that prohibit them from growing. About our seniors living in fear of their next ever-increasing property tax bill. And about our youth who are leaving this state in droves.
Now, I haven’t solved all our problems in the 59 days I’ve been a State Senator…but we are off to a good start.
In the last few weeks I have stood with our Republican leader, Senator John McKinney in support of the Republican budget proposal which would have created much needed savings and passed it on to citizens and businesses in the form of tax cuts.
Our proposal reduced the size of an already bloated state government through an early retirement program which would have saved state government more than $160 million. These savings would then be passed on to Connecticut taxpayers through the repeal of the business entity tax and the elimination of the increase in the tax on gasoline scheduled to go into effect on July 1st. That’s right; the gas tax is scheduled to go up again on July 1st.
The Republican budget also funded important municipal aide programs that had been cut previously, such as the Early Reading Success program. And it provided a 1% cost of living increase for non-profits and private nursing home providers.
Unfortunately, the Democrats in control of both houses of the General Assembly decided to do nothing. Despite the fact that the state is facing an $80 million deficit this year that is expected to grow to more than $1 billion by 2011, they have said that the best course of action is to do nothing. Even though 2,800 businesses closed their doors in the state of Connecticut in the first quarter of this year, the Democrats refused to take action. Though most towns in Connecticut are facing substantial property tax increases this year, exacerbated by unfunded mandates from the state, our towns’ pleas fell on deaf ears in Hartford while the Democrats touted their “do nothing” approach to the budget.
While Democratic leaders blindly ignored economic reality, Republican leaders listened. We heard the pleas of Connecticut residents yearning for state government to respond. In these uncertain economic times, we knew as they did that doing nothing is unacceptable. Working families and small businesses need relief.
Raising the tax on gasoline when it’s already $4.00 a gallon is not only unacceptable, it is unconscionable. We need to get rid of the business entity tax to make Connecticut more attractive to businesses, and if the Early Reading Success program is not properly funded, the Connecticut Post tells us 370 children in Bridgeport will not be able to attend full-time Kindergarten this fall.
What is most regrettable is that the decision to “do nothing” was never even debated in public. The Democrats refused to even allow a single hour of debate on our budget, never mind a vote. This heavy handed approach is anything but democratic, and this November we as a state must send our leaders a message that it is unacceptable.