The Connecticut General Assembly ended its 2018 legislative session early Thursday morning. Lawmakers are congratulating themselves because they passed a new budget without raising taxes.
WSHU’s Senior Political Reporter Ebong Udoma watched the proceedings all night long, and he recently sat down with All Things Considered Host Bill Buchner to give us the highlights.
Below is a transcript of their conversation.
Hi, Ebong. How are you doing?
Good, thanks. All right, so let’s talk about the very contentious issue of highway tolls. That was pushed aside by the lawmakers this week. So what are we going to do now about the Special Transportation Fund?
Well, they have found some money to put into the Special Transportation Fund. New Car Taxes. It’s not a new tax on cars, it is the taxes that we already pay on new cars. What’s going to happen now is that instead of it going into the General Fund, it’s going to be going into the Special Transportation Fund to make it solvent. They say that will make it possible for us not to have any fare increases and for us to have enough money for all the major projects in transportation that we have to do this year.
Now they say they passed a budget without any new taxes, but this sounds like a tax to me. Homeowners like myself and everyone in Connecticut who has a home insurance policy will now have to pay an extra $12 a year to help pay for the crumbling foundations in eastern Connecticut.
That’s correct. But it’s not a tax. It’s a surcharge.
Silly me. The casinos now, the casino in Bridgeport, the casino in East Windsor, where do we stand with those?
Basically, the casino bill died in the Senate. And that’s because we have a situation where those who are really pushing for the casinos are the delegations from Connecticut’s largest cities. And they’re a minority in the legislature. So it’s very difficult for them to get enough votes to back expansion of casinos.
And there was a lot of talk about early voting in Connecticut, what happened with that legislation?
That did not make it.
But we did sign onto the national compact.
Yes, the National Vote Compact.
Yes. We did pass that this year.
And that means?
If enough states sign up, the popular vote will be what will determine the Presidency rather than the Electoral College.
As long as we’re on the topic of voting, parolees, where they given the right to vote?
That did not make it. It was a bill that would have allowed parolees their voting rights. People who have served their time in prison and are still out on parole after their sentence. During the parole period it was said they should be allowed to have their voting rights back, but that did not make it.
And one thing, I know did pass a couple of nights ago, was the ban on bump stocks.
Yes, and that got support across the board from both Republicans and Democrats even though it was debated for a long time.
Yes, it seemed like for months it went on. Undocumented students were also on the scene in Hartford, rallying for help to pay for school.
And they succeeded this year. They finally got the votes and it passed and the Governor says he’s going to sign it. Basically what it does is allow undocumented students to tap into scholarship funds that they pay into as part of their fees in universities here.
And I understand, Governor Dannel Malloy addressed the General Assembly after the budget was passed and before everyone went home. I guess that’s the custom is for the Governor to address the lawmakers. Even at that time of the morning he had a sense of humor.
He sure did and he even made fun of the fact that he has low job approval numbers right now. And said that he gets along with everyone and those he doesn’t get along with he’ll campaign for this campaign season.