Members of the new Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes gathered for the first time Wednesday to begin its five month task of finding ways to streamline state government.
The 15-member panel created last month in the budget mitigation package will attempt to find efficiencies in state government that will reduce the costs and increase access to services.
Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, one of the co-chairs of the new commission, said there are so many overlapping functions within state agencies. And Slossberg should know because she’s mapped them all out on the walls of her office.
She said the commission will look to improve cooperation between state agencies and eliminate duplicate functions.
Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, said the commission will be examining what’s best for the state, instead of listening to whose barking the loudest.
“There are going to be no sacred cows when people enter this room,” Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said.
But the state legislature will be asked to pass a two-year budget before June 3 and if the commission’s report isn’t due until July 1, how is it’s work going to be relevant as the legislature tackles an estimated $8.7 billion budget deficit?
Slossberg said the commission includes the co-chairman of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee along with the Republican ranking members of that committee, so the commission will work on a parallel course with the legislature’s budget writing committee.
Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven, who is the co-chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, said if the commission comes up with some good ideas in the next couple of weeks its possible they might make their way into this year’s budget proposal, which is due out during the first week of April. She said since the commission is bipartisan and also includes a member of the governor’s Office of Policy and Management “it may be helpful for budget negotiations as we move forward.”
Harp said the Appropriations Committee is already considering some of Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s proposed consolidations of state agencies and commissions. “Some we may keep and some we may not,” she said.
William Cibes, one of the four members of the commission who is not an elected official, said if the commission is going to be successful the governor has to be involved early on in the process.