Christine Stuart photo
Democratic leaders allowed a group of third-graders to parade through a news conference Thursday that they held to urge Gov. M. Jodi Rell to sign the Health First and Healthy Kids bill.

The shameless pandering Thursday seemed to sum up this past legislative session in that there was a lot of show and no action on many issues, including the biggest item: the state budget.

Rell said Wednesday that she would sign the Health First and Healthy Kids bill once the two sides agree on a budget for the next two fiscal years.

Speaker of the House James Amann, D-Milford, said the two sides are “inches…centimeters…millimeters” away from a budget agreement, but in the meantime, “It’s not going to hurt the governor to sign a bill like this.”

The health care bill Democrats touted Thursday creates two health-related planning groups, raises income limits for Medicaid recipients, increases provider rates, and requires the Public Health Department to develop a statewide “electronic health information system.”

Click here for a copy of the bill and here for a copy of the Office of Legislative Research report and here and here for the Office of Fiscal Analysis reports.

Following the General Assembly’s passage of the bill Juan Figeroa President of the Universal Health Care Foundation sent out this press release  describing the bill as a band-aid that’s “too little, too late,” and this press release that decries the chasm between legislature’s rhetoric and reality. 

Rell has said she can’t sign any bill that includes a large amount of spending without a budget agreement. The price tag on this health care bill is $300 million once the state receives the federal reimbursements.

Budget negotiations have been prolonged as Rell and the Democrats haggled over taxes. Rell said Wednesday that she’s not willing to talk about taxes anymore until the Democrats start lowering their spending proposal, which is about 3 percent more than hers.

When pressed by the media about the budget Thursday Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said he’s not going to “be talking about offers going back and forth.”

Following the press conference Democratic leaders returned to the closed-door budget negotiations.