Monday, July 23, 2007

Wheels of gov't spinning slowly....

The legislature was due to return to Hartford today for the annual "Veto Override" session. It was suggested last week that since they'll all be there, lawmakers might also take up the 2007-09 Bonding package as well.

But that's not happening. There will be no veto session, and the vote on the bonding package has now been put off "for a few weeks." Not exactly known when a "few weeks" really is.

Word has it that lawmakers and legislative leaders still haven't ironed out the details of the state's borrowing plans. A lot of "promises" were made by the leadership to rank and file members to win over the support on the budget negotiations...and now the rubber needs to hit the road and those promises kept - and that apparently is easier said than done.

But there are some other big events coming up this week worth watching.

In Washington, on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on the 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill. In it is an extra $600 million to begin the advance procurement so a second submarine can begin being constructed as early as 2010.

It's a key vote, but far from the last one that will be needed to make this really happen. If the committee approves, then it goes to the full House for approval. The proposal will also have to clear the Senate, the upper chamber's Appropriations Committee hasn't even begun to take up the issue yet.

The biggest hurdle, however, could be the ongoing fued between the Democratically-controlled Congress and the White House over continued funding for the Iraq War. If Democrats attached more amendments to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would cut off funding for the troops...the president will most likely veto it...and those efforts to increase submarine construction from one- to two-per-year.

On another front, on Thursday in Hartford, the governor sits down for the first face-to-face meeting with top U.S. Department of Navy officials regarding the Groton submarine base. There's effort under way trying to forge a partnership between the state and the Navy whereby the state would put up the money for infrastructure improvements at the base, and the Navy "lease" the properties back - with an agreement that if for any reason the Navy abandons the base in future base closing rounds, the Navy will pay back the state whatever was spent there.

What's really surprising about all this is that this idea has been on the forefront of discussions for over a year now...and we're just now getting to a point where people are holding the "first" face-to-face discussion about it?

The wheels are moving slowly.....


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