At an early evening press briefing, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she would not be giving the traditional speech at midnight to adjourn the legislative session. However, she also noted that this is not like any other session she’s ever experienced.
Usually during the final days of session lawmakers are scrambling to get their bills passed, but with the budget in place lawmakers have “too much time on their hands,” Rell said.
“I’ve decided that everybody’s temper is just getting a little too short right now and by midnight everyone is going to be a little tired and will want to go home,” Rell said.
She said she still thinks lawmakers have time to get their bills passed. She said she doesn’t think there needs to be a special session to address the real estate conveyance tax.
“There’s 6 hours and 20-minutes left,” Rell said.
Democratic leaders want to extend the real estate conveyance tax, which will sunset July 1, but they don’t want to have to debate a Republican budget amendment. Democrats and Rell struck a deal late last week to keep the $18.4 billion budget they passed last year, but Republicans have argued their alternative budget, which includes an early retirement package for 4,200 state employees, would make modest adjustments to the 2009 budget while maintaining its bottomline.
Rell said Wednesday evening that “The Republican party should be heard.” She said one day majority lawmakers may be in the minority and wish they could be heard.
Rell is disappointed an ethics reform package has yet to reach her desk. “It’s my hope we can get the bill passed,” she said. “Ethics shouldn’t take four years to get passed.”
Rell was also disappointed a three strikes law didn’t make it through the legislature.
But she said she did sign the criminal justice reform bill, which strengthens the persistent felony offender law. She said she believes the Judicial branch commit about $615,000 to the changes outlined in the bill. The bill has a total $10 million fiscal note to hire more prosecutors, probation officers and public defenders, and provide more GPS tracking of offenders. The bill calls for doubling mandatory minimum sentences for second offenses and tripling those sentences after a third conviction.
Rell also said she intends to sign the Global Warming bill, which requires emissions to be capped at 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent emissions reductions from 2001 levels by 2050.
She said she was happy the legislature was able to get the teen driving bill to her desk. The bill increases the number of required hours of training teens must undergo, increases restrictions on when a teen can drive and increases various penalties. She signed the bill into law on April 21.
Rell said she would not comment on any other bills that may have received final passage, but had not yet reached her desk. As far as, the health care pooling bill that passed the Senate early Wednesday morning, Rell said she may be tipping her hand by saying this, but her biggest fear about the bill is the hole it could create in the budget. She said she spoke with someone in the state Comptroller’s office who told her it could jeopardize the $54 million in savings the state negotiated in the current state employee health insurance plan.