The West Hartford Senator who lobbied Democratic leadership to chair one of the most powerful committees in the General Assembly told Senate President Martin Looney that she’s stepping down to help her wife battle cancer.
“Today, I met with Senate President Looney and told him that I cannot continue as Senate Chair of the Appropriations Committee,” Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said. “My wife, Tracey, is battling cancer, and I need to spend more time with Tracey and my family during her treatment. Being Senate Chair of the Appropriations Committee would prevent me from doing that. I do look forward to continuing to serve as a member of the state Senate on behalf of my constituents.”
Bye said chairing the committee requires her to be present at times she will be unavailable due to her wife’s treatment. Bye and her wife Tracey Wilson were the first couple to legally marry in Connecticut after the 2008 Connecticut Supreme Court decision that allowed same-sex couples to marry.
Bye was appointed to co-chair the Appropriations Committee in 2013 by former Senate President Donald Williams Jr. She previously co-chaired the Education Committee and replaced Toni Harp of New Haven, who was elected mayor that year.
It’s unclear who might be stepping in to fill Bye’s shoes because the Senate is currently evenly split 18-18 between Democrats and Republicans.
The legislative session starts on Jan. 4.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and Looney have met once to discuss how the Senate will be configured. Looney maintains that Democrats will maintain a majority, but there are several ways in which the committees could be assigned.
What is clear is that the task of preparing a budget will be grueling. The state is running a $1.5 billion budget deficit and no large scale tax increases are being discussed as part of the solution, which means budget cuts will be necessary.