Gov. M. Jodi Rell and her Republican colleagues called on the Democratic majority Friday to add ethics reform to the June 11th special session agenda.
Ethics reform died during the regular session that ended earlier this month because lawmakers could not agree on whether to treat elected officials and state employees the same when deciding whether to revoke or reduce their pensions.
Rep. Chris Caruso, D-Bridgeport, has said a different standard is needed for state employees because their pensions are protected under collective bargaining agreements. Caruso’s counterpart in the state Senate Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, has said a separate set of standards doesn’t need to be applied.
Both Caruso and Slossberg met this week to quietly work out their differences. House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said in a press release Friday that Republicans should have been included in those “closed door” discussions.
“The Democrats have shown no interest in having Republican input into the ethics reform bill that they claim they want to pass. The Democrats held a press conference two weeks ago and said they would be reaching out to Republicans. Now we learn they are meeting in secret behind closed doors,’’ Cafero said.
“We could have had an ethics bill this year but for the House Democratic leadership that insisted on protecting corrupt public employee union members and treating elected officials more harshly,’’ Cafero said.
Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said “It is odd that House Minority Leader Laurence Cafero would criticize the fact that the Co-Chairs are talking, when just weeks ago he claimed that the lack of communication between them was standing in the way of an ethics bill. It now appears some House Republicans are more interested in scoring petty political points than in actually seeing something get passed. Gov. Rell is not quibbling about perceived snubs – she, like us, just wants action. Once again legislative Republicans are out of touch with their own governor.”
In an open letter to the entire General Assembly, Rell reiterated her support for the measure that passed the Senate. “This bill is the culmination of four years of hard work by my office and many members of the General Assembly. I strongly support this bill as do the Senate Democratic and Republican caucuses and the House Republican caucus. If you pass this bill and send it to my desk, I will sign it immediately,” Rell wrote.
Click here to read her entire letter.
Speaker of the House James Amann’s spokesman Larry Perosino said Friday that the meeting between Caruso and Slossberg was productive and the duo will meet again next week to see if they can reach an agreement.
If an agreement is reached it will be on the special session agenda.