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    Friday, June 21, 2024

    Legislators’ brazen deception should cost them re-election

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and with its 24-12 majority the Democratic caucus in Connecticut's Senate is well on its way there. For recent commentary from the Yankee Institute's Meghan Portfolio shows that the party was even more deceptive than originally reported with its legislation to award unemployment compensation to strikers.

    The legislation appropriated $3 million for the state comptroller to use to assist "families and workers," but the legislation failed to specify how or why. It passed the House with little discussion, the Republican minority strangely withholding criticism, apparently having made a deal with the legislation's Democratic sponsors about other legislation.

    Portfolio reports that questions were posed in the Senate by two Republicans, Eric Berthel of Watertown and Rob Sampson of Wolcott. Their questions went to Sen. Julie Kushner, D-Danbury, Senate chair of the Labor Committee and the bill's leading advocate. Berthel and Sampson repeatedly asked Kushner what the bill was about. Kushner repeatedly refused to explain.

    Of course many things are always being snuck through the General Assembly but almost always by being hidden and avoiding attention. Here attention was being called to something in plain sight, being discussed, and Sen. Kushner, a former labor union official, was determined to cover up though she knew well what the legislation was really about.

    Kushner's position, while unspoken, was clear: that the public shouldn't know what was in her legislation. Meanwhile she was letting the special interest from which her political career arose know that she was arranging a big reward for it.

    All the other 23 Democratic senators presumably also knew what was going on but also declined to explain, thereby endorsing Kushner's position that the public was not to be informed about what the Senate was doing. Many of these senators often righteously pose as protectors of "the people," whom they actually were striving to fool.

    Eventually the Connecticut Mirror pried the truth out of House Speaker Matt Ritter.

    Fortunately Gov. Ned Lamont is inclined to oppose giving unemployment compensation to strikers and seems likely to veto the bill. While the governor is a Democrat, he criticized the legislators from his party for their deception and said they should address the issue forthrightly instead.

    The misconduct by the Democratic legislators here should not be forgotten. What they did — especially Sen. Kushner — was a betrayal of their office. While the character bar for public office is getting lower in the era of Biden and Trump, there is no disguising the flagrant dishonesty and bad intent of Kushner and her colleagues. Whatever political competition remains in Connecticut should strive to remove them in November.

    Want defeats need

    Some Republicans in the state House of Representatives acknowledged and pressed a crucial point during the last hours of the legislative session. It's that despite all the whining done by Connecticut's institutions of higher education, the state's most urgent challenge in education is lower education.

    The state budget adjustments just made by the legislature delivered an extra $160 million to the University of Connecticut and the state university and community college system, but not the $80 million believed to be needed to properly fund state aid to municipalities for "special education."

    Tolland state Rep. Tammy Nuccio, ranking House Republican on the legislature's Appropriations Committee, argued that students who have been admitted to college presumably already can read and write even as Connecticut has thousands of young students who are far behind their grade level in reading and writing, especially those students classified as needing "special education."

    Handicapped students should be a state responsibility, not a local one, but state government still forces municipalities to bear much of their expense, thereby driving up municipal property taxes and increasing inequality among cities and towns.

    Unfortunately higher education has thousands of highly paid employees, almost all supporters of the majority party, while the constituency for "special education" can barely take care of itself. So once again politically connected want has triumphed over basic human need.

    Chris Powell has written about Connecticut government and politics for many years. He can be reached at CPowell@cox.net.

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