Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s nine judicial nominees will be up for a vote today in the Judiciary Committee.
But even if they clear that first hurdle, it’s still unclear if they will be called for a vote of the General Assembly.
There’s a lot more to the nominations than just the merits of the nominees Rell wants to elevate to the Superior Court bench. There’s also the issue of resolving the Judicial Branch’s budget woes.
Senate President Donald Williams said Friday that he doesn’t believe the judges and the Judicial Department budget should be approved separately from the entire 2011 budget.
“What I want to see is an agreement as to the entire budget not just the Judicial Branch,” Williams said.
Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney explained that the deal brokered to move forward with the Judiciary Committee’s hearing Friday on the judges was one made by the Judiciary Committee and has nothing to do with how the nominations would be treated after Monday’s vote. The Judiciary Committee spent most of the day Friday vetting the nine judges and expected to vote on their nominations today.
Republican lawmakers said that means that no bill with a fiscal note should be able to move forward then until the budget is resolved.
“All the work done on that agreement is now held hostage to an overall budget deal,” Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney said Friday.
He said that means the Senate and the House really can’t pass any bills until a 2011 budget deal is brokered because every bill has a fiscal impact.
“Not much more will get done until we settle the budget,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said.
In addition to a vote by the Judiciary Committee today, Rell is expected to announce which revenue stream she will propose securitizing to close a $1.3 billion budget gap. If the General Assembly and Rell fail to identify a revenue stream to cover the $1.3 billion gap, it will have to find that amount in spending cuts or tax increases to close the gap. Rell has promised to veto the Finance Committee’s proposal to use a charge, which is set to expire, on consumers’ electric bills to cover the cost over the next 10 years.
The legislative session ends May 5.