Snippets from the House Debate & Vote on the FY09 Supplemental
… which started early afternoon and ended around 10:00 pm. I attended the last two hours. A substantive description, courtesy the ProJo, of the budget as it will go to the Senate is available here.
> One of my favorite moments during the debate last came when Gordon Fox snapped at Bob Watson, “Sit down and vote”. Ah, yes, in case we were unclear on the attitude and perspective …
> The first vote on the hospital section of the budget resulted, remarkably, in a tie. Then, at least from the peanut gallery, it looked like a rule was broken when Steve Costantino requested to change his vote – from a mistaken nay – and obtained a re-vote on the item by the entire House. This, in turn, resulted in a change of outcome: from a tie to passage of the article. Chuckles and hisses of “Switched!” as a couple of representatives had obviously changed their minds on the matter over the course of five minutes.
> Ehrhardt, Loughlin, Newberry, Trillo and, most frequently, Watson did an excellent job articulating the many weaknesses of this budget. Ehrhardt asked about the mysterious disappearance of all of the budget articles that would have given badly needed management tools to cities and towns. Newberry observed a little crudely that the budget sticks it to cities and towns who will stick it to property tax payers and eventually to public employees. We’ll skip lightly over Trillo’s provocative remark that “this budget looks like it was drawn up by George Nee” and focus, instead, on his point that the Governor’s budget “was a total plan. When you cut the plan up, it doesn’t work”. Watson expressed smiling scepticism of Charlene Lima’s protestation that “no one wants to raise taxes”, noting that there would be no need to do so if the House hadn’t chosen to set aside some good budgeting ideas.
> Lastly, the following statements made immediately prior to the final vote on the bill are noted very much for the record.
– House Finance Chair Costantino promised that the management rights/budget tools for cities and towns which were removed from the 2009 Supplemental Budget “are still on the table” for the FY2010 budget. He “warned” human service providers and cities and towns that a “deep, deep amount of sacrifice will take place” in the next budget.
– Speaker Tempore Lima observed that this (the Supplemental Budget) “is not the end of change but the beginning”. She promised that “this session, we will tackle pension reform and the tax structure for businesses” in the state.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of the state depends upon the General Assembly carrying out these promises.