Thursday, February 22, 2007

The spending cap...

State Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, was the featured speaker this morning at a legislative breakfast hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. Not surprising, the state budget was the main item of his talk with about 170 area business leaders.

Williams talked about the Democratic priorities of health care, economic development, transportation and tourism, saying although he still considers the governor courageous in presenting the budget that she did earlier this month, her proposal requires too many cuts in programs and services - money that he said needed to be restored.

But what he never talked about is the state spending cap. The General Assembly , and the governor , have their hands tied with just how much new spending they can include in the budget - unless the governor signs a declaration declaring an emergency that requires breaking the cap. She has indicated that she will do that - at least as far as her proposals are concerned. But she hasn't said she'll do it if Democrats put a budget on her desk that ignore her plans and includes only their own.

A lot has been made leading up to this legislative session about how Democrats hold a "veto-proof" majority in both chambers. But in this case, the governor still holds the trump card. Without her declaration, it doesn't matter how many votes the Democrats have - they can't spend more than what the cap allows. And as both sides readily admit - that's not enough to keep the status quo.


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