Two New Haven lawmakers were chosen to lead the legislature’s Appropriations Committee and with it the legislature’s effort to decide where the money in the state will be spent. 

House Speaker Chris Donovan appointed Rep. Toni Walker of New Haven to co-chair the Appropriations Committee with Sen. Toni Harp, also of New Haven.

As head of the Appropriations Committee the two Toni’s will decide which programs get cut and which get funded as the state faces a $3.67 billion budget deficit.

Walker joked Wednesday that she’s up for the challenge of saying “No.”  But on a more serious note she said she’s been dealing with these issues for sometime as a member of the Appropriations committee and as former co-chairman of the Human Services Committee.

“This is not a new position I hate to tell everybody,” Walker said at a press conference Wednesday. “We’ve been going through this cleansing process in our Appropriations Committee for the last couple of years because of budget issues.”

“The most important thing we do in changing the funding is making sure the funding we do have leads to jobs,“ Walker said. “As far as the committee is concerned we all have to role up our sleeves.”

“Her help during the budget fight was very valuable,” Donovan said of Walker.

Rep. Pat Widlitz of Guildford will join Sen. Eileen Dailey of Westbrook in chairing the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee.

Widlitz, who is serving her eighth term and has spent the past seven years on the Finance Committee, was instrumental last year in negotiating and passing a bill which helps streamline the Department of Environmental permitting process for businesses.

In a phone interview Widlitz said she didn’t volunteer to chair the Finance Committee, but was asked to take on the challenge by Donovan.

“People respect her, she’s very thorough, serious, and really concerned about the state. When we look at finances we need someone that people can work with, respect, and knows will put in the hard work,” Donovan said of Widlitz.

“The leaders were picked for their experience,” Donovan said at Wednesday‘s press conference.

Widlitz and Walker both said they believe the process will be different now that they’re working with a Democratic governor.

Instead of starting at one end and having the governor start at the other, “we can work with the governor to build the budget,” Widlitz said.

Walker said for the first time she’ll be able to call up the head of a state agency and get the answers she needs. In the past Walker said she struggled to get information from state agency heads that she believed would help her make better decisions on certain programs or legislation.

It may be the first time the two spending and tax committees have been chaired by all female lawmakers. However, no one at the press conference was able to confirm that observation with any certainty.

The chairmanships of several committees opened up after several lawmakers joined the new administration or other public offices, while at least two were not re-elected.

House Democrat Committee Chairs are as follows:
Committee on Aging
Joseph Serra, Chair
Michelle Cook, Vice Chair
Appropriations Committee
Toni Walker, Chair
Patricia Miller, Vice Chair
Henry Genga, Vice Chair
Catherine Abercrombie, Vice Chair
Banks Committee
William Tong, Chair
Timothy Larson, Vice Chair
Select Committee on Children
Diana Urban, Chair
Kim Fawcett, Vice Chair
Commerce Committee
Jeff Berger, Chair
Greg Haddad, Vice Chair
Education Committee
Andrew Fleischmann, Chair
Douglas McCrory, Vice Chair

Energy & Technology Committee
Vicki Nardello, Chair
Lonnie Reed, Vice Chair
Environment Committee
Richard Roy, Chair
Paul Davis, Vice Chair
Executive & Legislative Nominations Committee
Claire Janowski, Chair
Linda Schofield, Vice Chair
Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee
Patricia Widlitz, Chair
Jason Rojas, Vice Chair
Elissa Wright, Vice Chair
Betty Boukus, General Bonding Chair
Andres Ayala, Transportation Bonding Chair
General Law Committee
Joseph Taborsak, Chair
David Baram, Vice Chair
Government Administration & Elections Committee
Russell Morin, Chair
Matthew Lesser, Vice Chair
Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee
Roberta Willis, Chair
Juan Candelaria, Vice Chair
Select Committee on Housing
Larry Butler, Chair
Chris Wright, Vice Chair
Human Services Committee
Peter Tercyak, Chair
Bruce Morris, Vice Chair
Insurance & Real Estate Committee
Robert Megna, Chair
Susan Johnson, Vice Chair
Internship Committee
Mae Flexer, Chair
Judiciary Committee
Gerry Fox, Chair
Gary Holder-Winfield, Vice Chair
Labor & Public Employees Committee
Bruce “Zeke” Zalaski, Chair
Ezekiel Santiago, Vice Chair
Joint Committee on Legislative Management
Christopher G. Donovan, Chair
Brendan Sharkey, Vice Chair
Planning and Development Committee
Linda Gentile, Chair
Auden Grogins, Vice Chair
Program Review & Investigation Committee
Mary Mushinsky, Ranking Member
Public Health Committee
Betsy Ritter, Chair
Christopher Lyddy, Vice Chair
Public Safety Committee
Steve Dargan, Chair
Ed Jutila, Vice Chair
Regulations Review Committee
Tim O’Brien, Chair
Transportation Committee
Tony Guerrera, Chair
Steve Mikutel, Vice Chair
Veteran’s Affairs Committee
Jack Hennessy, Chair
Frank Nicastro, Vice Chair
Christopher G. Donovan
Sandy Nafis