CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY

SENATE

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Senate was called to order at 1: 27 o'clock p. m. , the President in the Chair.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon everyone. I ask the Senate to please come to order. Would the members and guests, please rise and address your attention to Reverend, Bonita Grubbs, who will lead us in prayer.

DEPUTY CHAPLAIN REVEREND BONITA GRUBBS:

Let us pray. On this first day of the second month of a New Year and the beginning of African American History month, we gather in this Chamber to affirm what appears on our legal tender, “In you we trust” and to ask for the strength to be tender in the legal proceedings of this day.

It's a challenge to do so in light of all that is swirling around us in Connecticut, our nation, with a new president and in our world that is so uncertain, unpredictable, difficult to understand and upsetting.

Therefore, God, I ask You for a dose of hope that sustains, springs eternal and refreshes all who gather to deliberate important bills and important decisions. I ask for a full measure of faith in the democratic process and the better angels who emerge to offer words of inspiration and just ways to proceed with a preferential focus on those who are the most vulnerable in our state.

I ask that the power of your presence to be palpable here today and in the tough times during the session to protect the families of all of the elected officials and appointed staff during their absence during this long process and the budget that takes center stage.

I ask that the sense of your spirit and of solidarity surround us as we watch and weigh in on the unfolding events at the national level and the effects that these deliberations and actions have on the people in this state.

Finally, drawing from the words of an African American Spiritual, I ask that you “Guide our feet while we run this race, (towards justice, freedom, peace and equality) for we don't want our running to be in vain. ” Amen.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. I have asked Senator Flexer to come up and lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance, please.

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you very much. Thank you. At this time, I will entertain any points of personal privilege, Senator Suzio, where do you stand, sir?

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I do rise for a point of personal privilege.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you. Madam President, it's my honor to introduce to you today, Marc Youngquist, a Veteran from the War in Iraq, who served in the Connecticut National Guard, Military Police, the 143rd Country -- Company from 2003 to 2004. Marc was so moved by his experience in Iraq, and watching the heroism of his fellow soldiers around him, that he was compelled to write a book. And I'm doing a little

--

THE CHAIR:

Chamber, please. Thank you very much.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Proceed.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

The book is “The 143rd in Iraq: Boots on the ground training Iraq police in spite of it all. Marc was motivated because he knew that too few people knew of the heroism and bravery of our -- his fellow soldiers in Iraq, and he wanted to make certain that the people of Connecticut and the people of the world knew of the bravery and heroism that he saw firsthand and personally in Iraq. So, Marc is standing right back here with me, and his wife Marcia is behind him there. Marcia, why don't you just come up so we can recognize you, too.

You know, the families of these military Veterans basically sacrifice as much as the Veterans themselves, giving up time with their loved ones and worrying about them. And Marc is also joined by one of our state legislators, Brian Ohler, who is a State Rep. from the Hills of Litchfield. Brian joined the 143rd in Bagdad, and he was wounded there, and then returned twice for two more deployments and was wounded two more times. So, he was wounded three times while in service, combat service to our country. He is the first post-911 Veteran to be elected to the General Assembly here in Connecticut, and I just would welcome them all here and give them a big round of applause. [Applause]

THE CHAIR:

Thank you all very much for your service. We really do appreciate it and God bless you for doing it.

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

Madam President, may I just point out that there's two more folks who work here in the Capitol, who did serve in the 143rd as well. I just want to mention them, although they are not here in the room. We have Angelo Tosi, who is a security screener here at the Capitol. He was a Vietnam Veteran and served in the Marine Corps, and then he went to Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, and served with the 143rd Military Police Company there. He was a Master Sergeant and recently retired from the Connecticut State Police.

In addition, Anthony Lombardi, is a Capitol police officer and served in the 143rd, after returning from Desert Storm, too. And I just want to call their service to the country to the attention of my fellow Senators as well.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you very much, Senator. Welcome home, if we didn't say it before, we're saying it now. Welcome home. Thank you.

At this point, Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Good afternoon.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Madam President, does the Clerk have business on his desk?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

In addition to today's Calendar, Senate Agenda's Nos. 1 and 2, they've already been copied and should be on the Senator's desks.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move that all items on Senate Agenda No. 1 and No. 2, dated Wednesday, February 1, 2017, be acted upon as indicated and that the agenda be incorporated by reference into the Senate Journal and transcript.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, would the Clerk suspend our rules and take up as the first order of business House Joint Resolution No. 58, and would the Clerk also mark all Bills on Senate Agenda No. 1 as go.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk. Resolution 58, did you say, I'm sorry.

CLERK:

House Joint Resolution No. 58, RESOLUTION EXPRESSING SYMPATHY ON THE DEATH OF REPRESENTATIVE BETTY BOUKUS. LCO No. 3486, introduced by Representatives Aresimowicz, and Ritter, and Klarides. Senators Looney, Duff, Fasano, and Witkos.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, would the Clerk please read the resolution please.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

RESOLUTION EXPRESSING SYMPATHY ON THE DEATH OF REPRESENTATIVE BETTY BOUKUS.

WHEREAS, on Friday, December 2, 2016, the State of Connecticut lost an admired and dedicated State Representative with the passing of Representative Elizabeth A. "Betty" (Castiola) Boukus, at the age of seventy-three; and

WHEREAS, she represented the 22nd House District with distinction for nearly twenty-two years until the date of her passing; and

WHEREAS, she was born on April 16, 1943, in New Britain, Connecticut, daughter of the late Salvatore and Helen (McCooey) Castiola; and

WHEREAS, she attended Plainville High School, Mount St. Mary College, Central Connecticut State University and the University of Hartford; and

WHEREAS, she was a teacher at the Wheeler and Toffolon elementary schools, until she left teaching to raise her children; and

WHEREAS, she also had a career in real estate and insurance; and

WHEREAS, she was a member of the Plainville Town Council from 1989 to 1994 and was chairperson of the council from 1993 to 1994; and

WHEREAS, she was first elected to serve in the 1995 to 1996 term, representing the city of Bristol and the town of Plainville where she lived, and later representing the city of New Britain and the town of Plainville; and

WHEREAS, she served for eleven terms as a State Representative, and served as co-chairperson of the Bonding Subcommittee, member and vice-chairperson of the Select Committee on Aging and the Public Safety and Security Committee, member of the Appropriations, Banks, Commerce, Executive and Legislative Nominations, Finance, Revenue and Bonding, General Law, Judiciary, Transportation and Internship Committees and member of the Select Committees on Children, Veterans' Affairs and Workforce Development; and

WHEREAS, she also served as Assistant Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Whip and Deputy Majority Caucus Chair in the Connecticut House of Representatives; and

WHEREAS, she served as chairperson of the Prudence Crandall Statue Committee and worked to commission a statue in the State Capitol to honor Prudence Crandall, the state heroine, at the request of students from the fourth grade class of 2000 at Ellen P. Hubbard School in Bristol; and

WHEREAS, she attended and spoke at meetings of the State Bond Commission as an invited co-chairperson of the Bonding Subcommittee; and

WHEREAS, she worked tirelessly every December as an organizer of Secret Santa program that collected gifts and supplies for residents of the Veterans' Home and Hospital in Rocky Hill; and

WHEREAS, she is survived by her beloved husband of fifty years, Gary Boukus, Sr. , and her son, Gary Boukus, Jr. , her daughter, Helen Santini and husband Jason, her four grandchildren, Zachary and Alexander Santini and Logan and Maddison Boukus, her brother, Steven Castiola, and her sister, Teresa Czak.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Connecticut General Assembly expresses its sincere sympathy and heartfelt condolences on the passing of one of its honorable members, Betty Boukus, whose death is a profound loss to the House of Representatives, her family and friends, the residents of New Britain and Plainville and the entire State of Connecticut; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Clerks of the House of Representatives and the Senate cause a copy of this resolution to be sent to the family of Betty Boukus, as an expression of the high esteem and affection in which she is held.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark? Senator Martin.

SENATOR MARTIN (31ST):

Good afternoon, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR MARTIN (31ST):

I have remarks on the Resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR MARTIN (31ST):

You know, I -- my first term here, I got to know Betty, and the only thing I regret that I wasn't able to spend a little bit more time with her. You know, she was a great advocate for Bristol and, in particular, the Bristol Hospital, and let's also, you know, the Connecticut Veteran's Hospital, who has lost a really great advocate. She was able to bring funding to Bristol, to Plainville, and Bristol in particular. The Bristol Boy's Club, and it's one of the highlights of Bristol today.

She also brought money towards a historic building that is now used for the handicapped families in Bristol, and she also recently brought money to the old Jennings School that was recently renovated, for the Bristol Preschool Program.

One quick story, Betty was a real estate broker, or a real estate agent, and I'm a broker, so she -- I had a listing on Cedar Lake, a year ago, and she wanted to take a look at it. So, we went out, and Gary came with her and we sat for about an hour on the lake and inside the house. And this house, I was getting some feedback. There was an odor coming from the living room and we were scratching -- I was scratching my head, where was this odor coming from. So, I'm sitting down with Gary, and he notices the same thing and we start talking about it. He says, “It's coming from over in this direction. ” And sure enough, it was a gas insert that was in the fireplace and we were able to solve the problem very, very quickly after that. But we thought there was a dead animal inside the wall at one point, so, it's just a short story of my, you know, of getting to know Betty and Gary a little bit.

But, you know, she represented Bristol and New Britain very, very well, and Plainville, where she came from. And I know without a doubt that the Bristol community and Plainville community are going to miss her tremendously, as well.

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Senator Gerrantana.

SENATOR GERRANTANA (6TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I don't think a day goes by when I don't miss my good friend and colleague, Betty Boukus.

I met Betty when she first came into the House. I was already a member of the House. She came in and took over Eugene Myrick's seat. And from that day on, it was just, I know you're shaking your head because I know you were in the House at the same time, too, Madam President, and from that day on, Betty just brought such sunshine into everyone's life. This was a woman, I hate to say it in this context, but she had a heart as big as the State of Texas, I don't think there is any other way to put it, just magnificent. And everyone, everyone in the district that she served and the State of Connecticut can be so grateful to Betty. I know in New Britain alone, all of the different bonding projects that we have gone through over the years, many of them, in fact all of them, have been mentored and shepherd by Betty Boukus. What an asset to our delegation in New Britain and, of course, to the state.

Just a little story to exhibit Betty's personality and her heart and; that is, there was a colleague who had a child, brought a child for one of our sessions and that child, of course, was getting a little antsy, you know, being outside and being with mom and that sort of thing. And Betty goes right over to that child and starts to have a conversation and says, “Well, you come with me. There are things that you can see and that we can do together,” which gave a little bit of relief. The child was so happy to have this kind of attention, if you will, because we all know with children, that's basically what they need. And Betty took that child and showed the child different parts of the Capitol and what was going on in the Caucus. And when the child came back, the child was very calm and, of course, parents, mom was very appreciative.

So, it's just that kind of attitude that Betty would have to go up and to become a part of what was going on in any part of the lives of our constituents and the life of a child, of course. Now, every time you and I do this, every time I pass the portrait of Prudence Crandall, as we travel from the Capitol here, from the LOB here to the Capitol, you will see that portrait of Prudence Crandall, and I think of Betty Boukus. So, I feel that she will always be with us and, of course, her attention to Prudence Crandall was very appropriate. We have our state hero, which is Nathan Hale, and we have our state heroine who is, of course, Prudence Crandall. And it all goes to Betty's efforts. What a personality. We certainly will miss her. She was one of a kind. I miss her deeply in our caucus.

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I rise for saying a few comments for Betty Boukus.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

I got to serve with Betty not only in the House, but also as the Bond Chair in the Senate, while she was the House Bond Chairwoman, and all of the accolades that are being spoken about her are all valid and all true, but I really got to know her, as we had to work through some difficult items on the Bonding List, as we're tightening our belts, so we could be fiscally prudent. And she always had the uncanny ability to take a difficult item that was important to a legislator, or to anyone for that matter, and if we weren't able to do exactly what the request was, she had the -- as I say, the uncanny ability to make it seem a yes was really a no or a no was a yes.

She was able to deliver bad news with a smile and the person would walk out there feeling good. And I don't think too many people had that ability. And so, the last Bond Commission date in the last year she was very ill. And throughout her tenure she has been ill recently, but she was always working hard. She was always coming in when she really shouldn't have been there. And it comforts my heart, and hopefully her family and all that knew her, that she was able to attend that last Bond Commission meeting because she was able to say and tell everyone that she was not going to be able to do that any longer. And she got all the accolades that she deserved in a very public forum, and not everyone has that ability. So, I think it was rewarding for her to be able to have that happen for her.

She was always working not just for us as legislators, as colleagues, and her constituents, she also, as mentioned, was always working on behalf of Veterans. It was an extra hobby for her, even though that was a lot of work. And so, those are the kind of things that is a measure of her character. And to underscore that, in this final election, she attempted to run for reelection but, obviously, her health was failing her. And when a bad ad was put out there against her opponent that she nothing to do with and was unaware of, she personally went up to her opponent to say how sorry she was.

Now, that speaks volumes as to the character and type of person she was. It was the integrity that she held, and she never let that fail her. She never crossed her own world values to make a political point. So, she always did it for the right reason, and that's what I'm always going to remember. And I am just so happy that she was able to receive all of the public accolades that she so very much deserved.

So, I know we'll miss her. I know everyone here in this Chamber and downstairs will miss her, but I'm sure her family and friends will miss her the most. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark? Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. I don't think anyone could have said it better as my colleague and seatmate, Senator Carlo Leone, has just mentioned; it was so true. And having being a seatmate of hers for so many years on the Finance Committee, we got to know each other fairly well and the part that I will always remember is her incredible sense of humor, and she would always tweak me on political differences of the latest news item, and I would tweak her on her party points of view at times, and it was just so funny, because she always had a twinkle in her eye about it and we could have a great amount of laughs and made the time together there so much more pleasurable. And I also was able to watch as the illness that she was fighting really took a toll. And there is no one that I have seen be so brave and work so hard and be so dedicated under such difficult circumstances, so my hat off to her. It was really an honor and a privilege to know Betty Boukus.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Will you remark? If I could take more points of personal privilege then, I'm one of those special people that had an opportunity to work and really care about Betty.

I have to tell you, that everything that is said here about the heart of gold, the women that stands up for what she believed in, a fighter during her illness, the respect that she had for everybody, that the fact is that Betty Boukus, when she looked herself in the mirror, could look herself in the mirror because her word was her bond and she kept her word and she worked so hard to do it. But she put so much love and happiness into this world, just by her smiles, just by the way she dealt with people and made sure that everybody felt special. So, she is going to be greatly missed, but I hope that during this session and the sessions to come, that we won't forget her as somebody that brought people together, doesn't matter the sides of the aisle, doesn't matter what you do, but brought people together to get the good things done in the state. So, my words for Betty.

If there is no one else at this time, I'd ask for a voice vote on the resolutions for passage. All of those in favor, please say aye. Opposed? The resolution is adopted.

[Gavel]

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I'd like to go to our Calendar and mark our items go on our Calendar. So, if I can mark Calendar 26, Calendar No. 28, Calendar 29, Calendar 30, Calendar 31, and Calendar No. 27, as go. And if the Clerk can move in that order, please.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 1, Calendar 26, Senate Joint Resolution No. 32, RESOLUTION APPOINTING ROBERT J. KANE OF WATERTOWN AN AUDITOR OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on acceptance and adoption. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, Mr. Kane, former Senator Kane, has an MBA from the University of New Haven, a BS in Business Administration from Central Connecticut State University. His professional experience includes being the founder of Cartel Cellular phones. Obviously, a former state Senator, a general manager at the car phone store, and a former real estate agent at Caldwell Banker. Somebody -- obviously, that the circle is very familiar with has been nominated to be an auditor of public accounts, did not get sworn in on opening day so that he could be considered for this important post, somebody we have all worked with for a very long time, and certainly would ask for adoption of the resolution.

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further on the resolution? Senator Fasano, good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, I rise to support Rob Kane for the position of Auditor.

Madam President, Rob Kane has been on our Appropriations for an extended period of time as ranking member, and then served on Appropriations prior to that and I might add that at the time that he served as ranking member were probably one of the most difficult times we had with respect to budgets. There are many nights he spent here burning the midnight oil, coming to as many meetings as he possibly could, while still trying to run a business. And as we all know, for those of us who serve in this building and work, this building can swallow you whole and it's a very tough balance to keep it going.

So, Madam President, I think Rob Kane will do a great job as Auditor, and I look forward to its passage. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further on the resolution? Will you remark further on the resolution? If not, Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. May we have a Roll Call vote on the resolution, please.

THE CHAIR:

Roll Call vote will be had. Mr. Clerk, will you call for a Roll Call vote. The machine will be open.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate. Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

If all members have voted, if all members have voted, the machine be closed. Mr. Clerk, will you please call a tally.

CLERK:

Senate Joint Resolution No. 32.

Total number voting 33

Those voting Yea 32

Those voting Nay 1

Those absent and not voting 1

THE CHAIR:

Resolution passes. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move for suspension of our rules so that we may immediately transmit this down to the House of Representatives.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objection, so ordered, sir. Senator Duff. Oh, Mr. Clerk, will you call the next resolution, I'm sorry.

CLERK:

On page 1, Calendar 28, Senate Resolution No. 9, RESOLUTION CONFIRMING THE NOMINATION OF CHERYL ABRAMS OF BRANFORD TO BE REAPPOINTED A MEMBER OF THE PSYCHIATRIC SECURITY REVIEW BOARD.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, move acceptance of the Senate's favorable report and adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Motions on acceptance and adoption. Will you remark?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. She holds an MS Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of New Haven, a BS in Correctional Administration from the University of New Haven. Ms. Abrams' professional experience includes an Adjunct Instructor at Quinnipiac University. She was formerly an instructor at the University of New Haven, formerly a President and Officer of Connecticut Probation and Parole Association, and I urge a favorable vote.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further on the nomination? Will you remark further on the resolution? Seeing not, Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move this item to the Consent Calendar, please.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objections, so ordered. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 2, Calendar 29, Senate Resolution No. 10, RESOLUTION CONFIRMING THE NOMINATION OF SHEILA M. HENNESSEY OF WETHERSFIELD TO BE REAPPOINTED A MEMBER OF THE PSYCHIATRIC SECURITY REVIEW BOARD.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Move acceptance of the Senate's favorable report and adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Motions on acceptance and adoption. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Ms. Hennessey holds a JD from Boston College Law School, a BA from Albertus Magnus College. Her professional experience includes formerly a judge of the Newington Probate Court, and formerly before that a sole general practitioner. She is currently the Chairwoman of the Psychiatric Security Review Board, and I urge a favorable vote.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark? Senator Doyle, good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. I'd like to briefly speak in favor of the appointment of Sheila M. Hennessey to the Psychiatric Security Review Board. I have known Judge Hennessey for my whole life. I'm good friends with her children. She is really a legend in Wethersfield. She is for many years a practicing attorney, but she also served Wethersfield for many years on the Board of Education, became Chairman of the Board of Education.

Thereafter, she served on the Council for several terms, was Deputy Mayor, and thereafter that, she served, I believe, approximately 20 years as the Probate Court for the Newington Probate, that consists of Wethersfield, Newington, and Rocky Hill, and she was highly regarded as a Probate Judge. But what provides her unique experience for this position is during her tenure, most of her tenure as Probate Court Judge, you'll remember we had the Cedar Crest Psychiatric Hospital, in Newington. She had to convene and supervise many hearings over there on a weekly basis, so she got significant experience with individuals with psychiatric needs. Therefore, as you know, this board deals with individuals that CVH and Middletown, and it's a very, very difficult board to serve on, but Sheila Hennessey, being a person beyond reproach with exceptional experience in here, I urge the Chamber to vote for this resolution and reappoint Sheila Hennessey to this important board. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further on the resolution? Will you remark further on the resolution? Senator Duff, will you -- Senator Duff, will you speak to me, thank you. [Laughter] Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

What would you like to hear, Madam President?

THE CHAIR:

We'll talk about that later. [Laughter]

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Okay. Wonderful. Thank you, Madam President, if there is no objection, I move this item to our Consent Calendar, please.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objection, so ordered, sir. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

Also, on page 2, Calendar 30, Senate Resolution No. 11, RESOLUTION CONFIRMING THE NOMINATION OF MICHAEL C. DALY OF FARMINGTON TO BE REAPPOINTED A MEMBER OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move acceptance to the Senate's favorable report and adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Motions on acceptance and adoption. Will you remark?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Mr. Daly holds a JD from Western New England University School of Law, a BA from Trinity College, and is currently a managing partner at Furey, Donovan, Tracy & Daly, PC. He's a contributing author of Connecticut Evidence by Holden & Daly, a Member of the Board of Governors of the House of Delegates Representative at the Connecticut Bar Association, and I urge favorable vote.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further on the resolution? Will you remark further on the resolution? If not, Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. If there is no objection, I'd like to place this item on our Consent Calendar, please.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objection, so ordered. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, if we can now move to Calendar No. 27, Senator Resolution No. 8.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 3, Calendar 27, Senate Resolution No. 8, RESOLUTION APPROVING THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT IN JUAN F. , ET AL. V. DANNEL MALLOY, ET AL.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Osten.

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. I would yield to my good colleague and vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Hartley.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Hartley, will you accept the yield, ma'am.

SENATOR HARTLEY (15TH):

Yes, I do. Good afternoon, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon.

SENATOR HARTLEY (15TH):

I do accept the yield. Madam President, I move acceptance of the Senate Committee's unfavorable report and rejection of the Settlement Agreement, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

The motion on acceptance of the unfavorable report and rejection of the Settlement Agreement. Will you remark, ma'am.

SENATOR HARTLEY (15TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, this settlement was the extensive subject of a hearing before the Appropriations Committee and I should first of all remark, Madam President, that the -- and recognize the unilateral -- uniformly the Committee felt that the leadership and the Commissioner's work had represented great progress in running the Committee and dealing with the incredible challenges of providing a safe haven and harbor for our children and families.

Madam President, Senate Resolution 8, subsequently it was the majority opinion of the Committee that there was substantial compliance with more than a majority of the 22 outcomes, the outcome measures that were before the court, and this was recognized not only by the members of the Committee, but also by the plaintiffs and it was reported by the court monitor.

The opinion of the majority of the Appropriations Committee, however, was that they were not willing to create fixed funding for the department, which had the effect of perhaps being an affect in perpetuity. The Committee, however, did recognize that the settlement did, in fact, have significant merit. And, however, on balance after a very extensive process and hearing, it was the majority of the Committee's opinion that in effect creating a fixed funding amount going forward would represent adoption of the legislature's role and; therefore, came the vote on the unfavorable report. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Senator Formica. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Thank you, Madam President, and good afternoon to you. I rise for some comments on the resolution, please.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Just a few points of clarification. The motion is to approve and uphold the rejection by the Appropriations Committee so that a yes vote would mean this would not pass, provided it received the necessary number of votes; is that correct, Madam President?

THE CHAIR:

That is correct, sir. You know, the statute basically says that two-thirds of the legal votes cast are needed to adopt this unfavorable report. So, a yea vote does indicate the acceptance of the unfavorable report.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Thank you very much. You know, we appreciate the hard work of this agency, and we understand the desire to get out from under Federal oversight, but this particular agreement does not settle the case nor set a termination date for the court oversight. And should this fail, then the parties would continue to operate under the current agreement and as the good Senator said, it does alarmingly, I think for the Appropriations Committee, create a judicial lockbox for the entire agency's budget inclusive of a new array of services that would be added and specified to be used by the agency, which would be outside the realm of many other child services that are provided in other great agencies throughout our government. Also, the open-ended opportunities for additional services and programs by the court administrator still would be at its determination. I have some concerns with that.

So, Madam President, in closing, I would say, let's work with DCF, let's include the Attorney General's office, let's include this legislature. Let's together craft a plan that will truly modify the existing outcome measures and to help move DCS out of court oversight, which I think is the goal for everybody, but in an equitable way that does not tie the hands of this legislature or future legislatures and addresses the systematic failures and do what's best for the children that we need to serve. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. And for clarification, Senator Formica, I did make a mistake, there is three-fifths of legal votes cast are needed to adopt the unfavorable report, not two-thirds, it's three-fifths.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

So, this is one of those in government, a yes vote is a no vote, Madam President?

THE CHAIR:

Yes, and I'll go through that afterwards, but I had given the wrong numbers before --

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Thank you very much.

THE CHAIR:

-- yes. Will you remark further on the resolution? Will you remark further on the resolution? If not, at this time -- let me just remind everybody that the issue before us, Calendar No. 27, the Senate Resolution No. 8, THAT UNDER SECTION 3-125A OF THE GENERAL STATUTES ARE THREE-FIFTHS VOTE -- THREE-FIFTHS VOTE MAKES IT A LEGAL -- LEGAL VOTES CAST ARE NEEDED TO ADOPT THE UNFAVORABLE REPORT. So, a yea vote indicates the acceptance of the unfavorable report and a rejection of the agreement.

So, at this time, Mr. Clerk, I'd ask you to open the machine and call for a Roll Call vote.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

If all members have voted, all members have voted, the machine will be closed. Mr. Clerk, will you please call the tally.

CLERK:

Senate Resolution No. 8.

Total number voting 33

Those voting Yea 25

Those voting Nay 8

Those absent and not voting 1

THE CHAIR:

The agreement has been rejected.

[Gavel]

Senator Duff. Mr. Clerk, will you call Calendar 31, please.

CLERK:

On page 2, Calendar 31, Senate Resolution No. 7, RESOLUTION PROPOSING APPROVAL OF AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT AND THE STATE EMPLOYEES BARGAINING AGENT COALITION.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Osten, good afternoon again, ma'am.

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, I rise and ask for the circle to approve Senator Resolution No. 7, which is the agreement between the State of Connecticut and the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, and I urge adoption.

THE CHAIR:

The motion is on acceptance and adoption. Would you like to remark, ma'am?

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. Madam President, this agreement is a simple agreement from my perspective. The provisions of the proposed agreement are that the unfunded liability will be computed using entry-age normal, currently the State Employee's Retirement System uses projected unit credit in general. In addition, the Pension Funding Method will be level dollar. Essentially the same in layman's terms would be as a mortgage with an equal dollar amount to be paid over a given number of years.

In addition, the unfunded accrued liability as of 1984 will be paid off in 2032, with the total SURS on accrued liability of $ 14. 9 billion as of 06/30/2014, to be paid off by 2047. An additional 15 years is being added to the current amortization period and the actuarial gains and losses will be amortized using a 25-year-layed amortization approach.

In addition to that, the Retirement Commission, as of 12/15/16, adopted an assumption rate of 6. 9 percent, instead of what has been in as an 8 percent, which was clearly an unrealistic assumption.

So, I urge my colleagues to adopt the resolution as this provides stabilization of the pension fund, and that's clearly what this is, a stabilization of the pension fund.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator Formica.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. I rise for the purpose of discussion of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Thank you very much. Madam President, this to me is a question of philosophy. This gives us an opportunity to decide, I think as a state, in our fiscal challenges, whether we are going to continue to address the symptom or whether we are going to try to address the problem. Is this a bill to -- a resolution to help us on our budget as we move forward, or this truly a pension refinancing agreement and simply just that?

The numbers that we receive show us that for purposes of the refinance, this is $ 1. 1 billion dollars in savings for the next two years, and I think, are we trading that savings for long-term stability and security as the cost moving out for the final 15 years exceeds anywhere between $ 8 and $ 12 billion dollars in additional costs to the state of Connecticut.

Now, Madam President, I understand this has been a problem that has been simmering for many, many years, and this is of no fault of really anyone here as to how it began. It simply, the legislature did not fund certain pension obligations in the early days of those pensions, and it lead to costs overrunning returns.

We are on the verge of crafting a new budget. That budget, it has a two-and-a-half-billion-dollar proposed deficit over the next two years. Driven in part by the escalating annual contributions to this fund. Five years or so ago, there were some changes made to try to address this certain point. But again, it was an addressing of certain symptoms and not the full problem. Five years ago, there was a promise to erase the 2032 spike that we are all hearing about, and yet as the conversation occurs over the last few weeks for a promise of stability and predictability, we're hearing of the same spike about to occur in 2032, roughly 16 years from now. This plan proposes to do the same. The tradeoff is should we continue the problem by underfunding our pension by $ 11 billion dollars over the first 15 years or should we kick the can down the road and pay an additional $ 8 to $ 12 billion dollars, take that savings and apply it to our budget?

This puts the real solution off, has been our history here. Now that said, as the good Senator said, as she introduced this, there are some good aspects that will begin to address some of the problems that we have. And she mentioned the allocation rate dropping from 8 to 6. 9 percent, which will help us potentially move closer to achieving our investment assumptions.

However, Madam President, I remind the Chamber that over the last five years, our investment returns have averaged a little over two percent. The other good thing in this particular agreement has to do with the formulate change to level dollar. I see that as a positive change. But it's not quite enough. I did, at the Appropriations Committee, vote yes to get this out of Committee, based on a set of numbers that we saw on that particular day. It was until after that vote that we received some numbers that really showed that this was more of a budget opportunity over the next two years in attempt to really continue treating the symptoms and not really address the problems.

We need true stabilization in long term, so that we are not here time and time again addressing the same issues. This agreement does not save the pension money, it increases costs by extending the amortization schedule. This agreement does change the design on the system or improve the fund solvency for its members. This agreement does not do anything to shore up our woefully underfunded pension plan.

I suggest, Madam President, that we start with solving the problem at the same time that we begin to take these steps, and if there are discussions going on now with the union that ultimately resulted in this conversation, I think we should start with true pension reform. And that some ideas, and there are many of ideas, not just ideas that I'm going to say, I'm just going to mention a few. But adopting a defined contribution plan for new hires only, that will save money over time, especially with the reduced allocation rate. Increasing employee contributions will be helpful as we move to reform. And perhaps a change in the COLA to match closer to inflation with a two percent cap. These are proven money changers and system strengtheners.

Madam President, I submit in closing that I believe it's time to put us, this government, this body, this legislature, put our budget on a path to sustainability. Let's guarantee our great employees the confident future and the system stability that they so richly deserve and, at the same time, give our tax payers the affordability that it demands. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark further? Senator Osten, for the second time.

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. Madam President, I would remind my colleagues around the table that this is not a philosophy discussion, this is a dollar's discussion. And, in fact, if this agreement is not affirmed, it will cost in the next budget $ 570 million dollars, and I have not heard my good colleague, who I enjoy sitting next to all the time, come up with a resolution for that $ 570 million dollars nor have they even discussed the $ 6 billion dollars that on the spiked plan that is available. The facts are this, we have people all on the same side of the fence on this issues. Whether it's the comptroller or the treasurer or the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, who has affirmed this resolution. In addition to that, both two of the rating agencies have said that this agreement is a good agreement and a start in the right direction. Both Moody's and S&P have said to us that these are things that Connecticut should be doing to move us in the right direction.

Unlike previous administrations, this is not a kick the can down the road, it would be nice if we could just do that and not discuss true -- a true discussion on our pension, unfunded pension liabilities. The facts are this, that we have a problem that has not been discussed and open in a very long time, and this was an open discussion. This was a discussion that was had between the unions and the executive branch that was a long time in coming. Are there other discussions that need to be had? Absolutely. Is this true pension reform? No, it is not. It is not because it was not designed as that. It was designed as pension stability, so that we can continue discussions and to my knowledge, those discussions are happening. And I can't wait to see the results of them because I know that state employees have always stepped up when the state needs them to.

The fault of previous administrations of not addressing the unfunded pension liabilities when the state had surpluses in the '90s has led us to this day. We need to affirm this, so that we stabilize next year's budget. We stabilize the future of the pension, and we meet our obligations in a clear and concise way.

Again, I remind my colleagues, all parties are on the same side of the fence, CBIA, Moody's, Standard & Poor's, CBAC, the treasurer, the comptroller and, I hope, this body. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Senator Frantz, good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR FRANTZ (36TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. I rise in opposition to this resolution. And I'll just start by saying, democracy is a great form of government because it does allow you to talk about the causes and effects of problems, such as the one we're dealing with here today. And I think it is completely fair game. I know we're looking at a potential cash crunch in the next 12 to 18 months, if we don't act in some form or another, this is maybe perhaps the easiest way to come up with $ 550 million dollars for next year's budget, but it's super important to be able to talk about these problems that we see today, what the causes are, and how we can fix it, all in the name of the health of the economy and the State's Fiscal House, here in Connecticut as well as the taxpayer.

So, you know, had the captain of the Titanic had a little meeting with his safety committee before entering the area where the icebergs were known to be and discussed what he could have done differently to avoid the iceberg, maybe they could have averted that disaster, we don't know. But that's what we're looking at here. And yes, we're maybe going into waters where there aren't as many icebergs if we pass this deal today in minimizing the risk of there being unpredictability and more instability in our fiscal situation here in Connecticut, but we're still not eliminating the problem, and I would argue that we're making it worse.

We're taking a very high cost solution down the road, which I would consider amoral, because we're putting the obligation onto kids who we don't even know yet, probably aren't even in the world yet, when you're talking about 20 and 25 years down the road. We have been doing this, we, none of you necessarily have been here for 30 years plus, but for 40 and 50 years, we have been constantly generating promises that really can't be kept, and we have been very un-fiduciary like in the way that we've dealt with the numbers end of this and that we have not supplied the capital in the pension funds, there is not just one, there is several of them, and there is also the healthcare plan that we haven't even talked about.

Where, we haven't put enough capital into -- at the base. The two most important things you can have in the mathematical equation is, you have to have a big base. You have to have a high rate of return. We have had neither of those two for essentially 40 years now and particularly in the last maybe 16 years, 18 years, when we've seen a tremendous bull market, but also a big hiccup and incredible opportunity; we've had real mediocre returns on a very small base. That's a double edge sword that has essentially destroyed the mathematics of this particular pension scheme that we're dealing with. And you know, yes, we all acknowledge that the rating agencies say this is mildly positive to pass something like this. Well, you have to remember, these are the guys in 2008, who were saying things are going to be fine, they're going to be fine, because we are going to be able to get through the next three and six months on all of these collateralized debt obligations and subprime mortgages, subprime mortgage instruments and all of that, but boy were they wrong because had they taken a longer view of say even just a year or what they should be doing is looking five and seven years down the road, these things were completely unsustainable given their financial makeup and also given what was going on in Washington, D. C. , and also in the marketplace there were a lot of guilty parties there.

So, they are looking at this as how much can the State of Connecticut tax their citizens with their unlimited taxing power. And they look at it in a static situation. They look at it perhaps only going out six months or 12 months, can we get through to the next, you know, two or three payments on our bonds. And the answer there, of course, is yes. But what happens two years down the road, five years down the road? And I know this is trying to address it, but there is a better way to avoid a cash crunch in the state and have the kind of structural reforms that we need that will keep us solvent for the future and for future generations.

You know, it's this kind of obligation that we have that is on a crumbling foundation. It's a theme we know about all too well in this circle, in this building, and this is exactly what's happening with their pension plan and it's exactly why we have to address this problem head on today, and this is an opportunity for everybody to speak out about the issues. Yes, we know there is a cash crunch, we have got to do something about it, but now is our chance.

And if you look at the balance sheet of Connecticut, and you look at its $ 12 to $ 13 billion dollars in assets and it's close to $ 90 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities as well as funded liabilities, we need $ 23 billion dollars' worth of bonded indebtedness, that in the private sector world would put us in insolvency decades ago.

But some have, because as Moody's and S&P says, it can keep going to the next quarter or six months or whatever with unlimited taxing power they can just barely squeak through, but the private sector sees this and, you know, they're scared to death of the balance sheet of the State of Connecticut for reasons that we're dealing with and talking about today.

So, we need to fix that if we're going -- if we're going to cause predictability and we're going to cause stability, this is exactly what we have to reform, and today would be a great day to start to do that by certainly talking about it. And we know that business decision makers pay very close attention to the balance sheet as well as the cash flow statement, the income statement of the State of Connecticut, and they really don't like what they see.

I know for fact, because Jeff Immelt is still a constituent, he's not moved out of the state yet, but he certainly has moved his corporate headquarters out of the state. And his biggest fear was what was in store for the future based on the balance sheet, and this goes back two-and-a-half years, I think he'd be pretty appalled at what was going on here. In economic development, we talk to CEOs and CFOs all the time, they're very, very concerned about our balance sheet.

Also, you have our structural costs, a large portion of which are the pension fund payments and contributions that must be made have gone from 23 percent to well over 50 percent here in the last 15 years. This is an unsustainable trend, particularly because right now, as you all know, we're in a low interest rate environment. The only place for rates to go is up. We know it's going to happen. The economy will start to get heated up again, and we're looking at a 13 percent, close to 13 percent of overall budget cost for debt service. That could easily go to 15 percent when you get over 10 percent, the red flag should be going up, and I don't see enough red flags or even pink flags around the building.

So, the structural expenses have for many years now, certainly for most of our tenure here in the circle today, has been crowding out spending in the social services area. It has been brutal, as we all know. And this is why we're all here is to take care of the most vulnerable people in the State of Connecticut and we've effectively failed partially there anyway because we haven't kept our fiscal House in order where we can actually afford these different programs. And, if anything, it is going to get worse before it gets better.

So, again the math doesn't work on this. The original pension scheme was never really well thought out, never well-constructed, because those ended up being promises that could never be fulfilled over the course of time; especially, when you had such poor returns on investment and such neglect of the overall base of the capital, the principal that is in that account and other retirement accounts for state employees and teachers and the like.

So, the math doesn't work. I think today, let's not approve this. Let's figure out a way to get through our cash flow crunch problems and let's start to talk about serious pension reform; otherwise, it will destroy the State of Connecticut. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark? Senator McLachlan. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, I stand disappointed over this proposal; however, I think it's really a special day in the Connecticut General Assembly because since my arrival in 2009, we haven't had an opportunity to have a discussion about one of the contracts that automatically is deemed approved without action by the General Assembly. So, I'm grateful that we're having a discussion about this agreement today. I think it's very important. I would like to, for those outside the state capitol, who don't really understand what's happening here today, I'd like to put it into layperson's terms.

We all know what happened in the late 2000s. In fact, when I began my term here in 2009, we were in the middle of the Great Recession. And being a former banker, I can tell you that I had personal friends and clients who, leading up to that Great Recession, were being creative in the way they financed their primary residence.

So, let me just remind people what was going on in those days. Unfortunately, it's still happening. People would have credit cards maxed out and roll all the credit cards into a refinance on their home. And then they would go and buy a car that they couldn't afford and they would cash that out and add it to the refinance on their home. And low and behold, banks were allowing refinance of homes, even though property values were dropping at this point. They were allowing a refinance for someone with good credit at 110 percent of appraised value of the property. So, low and behold as the property values continued to plummet, they were upside down. And low and behold, not too far down the road, they were homeless, looking for a rental because they were not able to purchase another home less expensive.

Now, everyone can think of a neighbor, a friend, or a family member who went through this. Because it was literally thousands right here in Connecticut that experienced that and across the country millions who had that experience. And what did that mean? That meant that it was living beyond our means, and that's exactly what this agreement is. We're not fixing any problems, we're just refinancing. That's what we're doing. It's a refi, and a refi is always, always postponing the agony.

The only person that -- the only reason to refi that makes sense is if you're decreasing your liability and getting a lower interest rate. But that's not what we're doing. What we're doing is postponing agony. We're not facing the problem that is vividly before us.

I urge rejection of this agreement with the hope, sincere hope, that the union negotiators and the state employees understand that we are not fixing their problem, their concern about their pension plan with this action today. And to the taxpayers, we are not fixing your problem today with this refi because all we're doing is adding $ 11 billion dollars to your liability. So, we're not fixing the problem. This agreement should have been and certainly in the private sector would have been part of a bargaining chip, part of a wider discussion of pension reform in the State of Connecticut. Republican members of the Connecticut General Assembly have time and time again proposed alternative pension benefits for state employees, new hires.

I don't believe that we've ever said, at least not since I've arrived, have I ever supported the idea of slashing pension benefits. You know, I keep hearing that that's what republicans are trying to do. On the contrary, we understand there is a commitment to current and previous state employees, but there's a reality check right now, just like there has been in the private sector and in local governments, my own hometown, and in other states as close as Rhode Island, there is a reality check that this pension plan in the State of Connecticut is going to implode like California.

Does anyone know what happened in California? Well, eventually that's what's going to happen if we don't fix the problem. There was a story late last month, a cover story in one of the papers of a California retiree, California state employee retiree, whose pension benefit went from $ 49,000, I believe, to $ 19,000 in one swoop. Serious problem. And my point is, why aren't we fixing the problem? All we have to do is look at what's happened in other states and look at what's happened with government employee pensions in municipalities and in county governments elsewhere in the country.

We know we're on the precipice. We know it's a problem, but we're just doing a refi. And that's what happened to millions of fellow Americans in the Great Recession, and they had a very, very painful lesson. People that I went to school with, who at age 50 years old, were facing homelessness, had lost everything that they had in any equity in their home, because they were living above their means and now have no retirement and are just now, eight to 10 years later, starting to find their way back to home ownership, approaching 60 years old. You see what I'm saying, it's a very visible problem in individual family's budgets of living beyond their means. We saw it. We're still seeing it. And now state government is continuing to do the same thing.

So, I wanted to share with you, especially our constituents, this comparison that refi is the wrong way to go; unless, unless, it's also pension reform at the same time, it has to be. Because you need both of those items working together, refinance if necessary and reform, to be able to fix the problem. And I urge rejection of this proposal before us. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. Madam President, this pension fund debate is just another reminder that the State of Connecticut has put itself in a very bad situation. It's a reminder to Connecticut's taxpayers that instead of making the really hard decisions that we really should make right now and change the perception of businesses that Connecticut has a bright future ahead. Instead, continuing a practice of pushing this very serious problem onto other legislators, onto other governors, onto other taxpayers. You know, much was made previously of administrations that didn't face the facts that they were confronting and moved the pension reform, which is really what this should all be about, they moved it out 10, 20, even 30 years. And here we are again facing what was perceived of problems of the past.

And at this time, a pledge was made not to ever do this again. And yet, here we are doing the very same thing. And you've heard that adage being said all the time, that insanity is doing the same thing time and again, over and over, and expecting a different result.

Well, this proposal that we're looking at is missing two very important points, and this is something that has not been discussed yet today. It is presuming that by taking the rate of return on this pension fund from 8 percent to 6. 9 or essentially 7 percent, we're going to make a really big difference in the state. And, in fact, we couldn't be more wrong. Because let's face it, if you have been in the marketplace and studying pension investment returns over the last 10, 20, 30 years, you know that when we face a recession and obviously in the next 20 or 30 years, we're going to face two or three, it's guaranteed recessions. And in those recessionary years, rates of return are not even in the plus area; many times, they are minus two or even three percent. I don't see this calculation that we're looking at right now, take that into consideration. To say that there will be years when you will never reach seven percent. In fact, in really good years, the good years that we're having right now, getting to a seven percent return is very, very difficult to do. Some of the very best investment managers in the country can't get there.

Beyond that one consideration, that really undermines the calculation of what we're staring at and why maybe that $ 11 billion-dollar cost could be substantially more. When you extend the payments out into the future, you are actually paying more, that makes sense. You know that when you do that by getting a seven-year loan on your car instead of a two or three year, you do that when you take your 15-year home mortgage out to 30 years, you're going to end up paying more at the end of the day.

So, what we're really doing is increasing the cost to Connecticut taxpayers by not addressing pension reform, which we should be addressing right now. And the pressure to do that would be if we kept the numbers the same, if we did not vote in favor of this proposal, if we really looked seriously at addressing the issue at this moment. That is why many of our state employee pension unions have promoted and even encouraged this type of proposal instead of cutting back where we need to. Again, moving this issue to future pensioners, future employees. Quite frankly, this to me is not a stabilizing method at all.

It's just making a very bad situation worse. And I'm going to repeat that, it is not stabilizing the condition, the financial condition of the State of Connecticut, it is making a bad situation much worse and adding to Connecticut's reputation as a state with fiscal problems that companies like GE and God knows, I hope not ETNA, look at and make them consider another option than the State of Connecticut. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I rise in support of the measure in front of us, and I want to offer a differing point of view as a result of that statement. And I very much respect my republican colleagues for their point of view on this issue going forward, but I would posit that doing nothing is not the solution. Doing nothing is the clear message to the private businesses out there, the GEs, the ETNAs, their fear of how we're going to balance our fiscal sheet going forward. And this proposal is just one step towards that pension stability, that pension stability that will lead to pension reform. This is not a won and done, we passed this and things are going to be clear sailing going forward.

But in order to get the pension stability to lead to pension reform, you have to be able to pay your bills. You have to pay your bills now and what you're obligated to do. And right now, we're facing $ 500 million next year, $ 6 billion within a couple of years, with no clear solution on how to do that now if this measure does not pass. I haven't seen a proposal that fills that gap.

So, if we don't meet that obligation, we're never going to have the chance to worry about the future because we will never get there. This is about being able to pay your bills going forward. And this will allow us to do that by stabilizing the payments over, yes a longer period of time, but that will give us a chance to get to a place where we can put our fiscal house in order, generate the proper revenues so that we can then prepay not just our current obligation, but you can pay the interest on the principal, so that you can reduce that long-term payment schedule, that's how it's supposed to work. So, we have to take -- we have to make sure that we follow through that. This legislature, this administration, future administrations, future legislatures to pay their share when they're supposed to.

We didn't arrive at this situation overnight. Previous administrations, some from the other party, one independent, this is a long-time coming where previous officials didn't put their fair share into making the payments, and we're now faced with trying to undo that injustice. And if the revenues are not there, the revenues are not there. And, yes, there's going to be a lot of hard choices coming. We're not going to shirk our responsibility. This is just one of many more hard choices coming.

In the 2008 recession, plenty of loans were being made that never should have been made. Some were on the fault of the individual, some were on the fault of the banks that wanted the easy money because they could increase their fees. But what was the fallout?

A lot of people lost their jobs, their homes become undervalued and they were under water, and there was total disruption out there. And if we didn't act or do something to help our fellow constituents that were faced in a precarious position, there would have been a whole lot more people homeless and destitute. So, people that were caught unaware, many times through no fault of their own, not through their lack of fiscal management, but through the fallout of the recession, the fallout of the financial firms, giving bad loans to clients they knew couldn't afford them, and then for the poor person who did all the right things, worked in those years and, all of a sudden, they lost their job and they couldn't get a loan because the market dropped. This esteemed body we passed a program for people that couldn't make their mortgage payments for those situations, mortgage foreclosure program, right? So, that they could go to an arbiter and put out a plan that if they can make payments going forward and extend the life of the mortgage from say 30 years to 40 years, if they could get a job or maintain their job, whatever job they had to generate income, if they could continue to make payments they could stay in their home.

And then if that could lead towards increased employment, increased salary wages, increased income, they could prepay their new costs and bring it back down. They had to get over that hump. Sometimes you are faced with a situation that is untenable and many times through no fault of your own. And I don't think it's the fault of this current body that has gotten us here, but it is this body that has to find the way out. And private businesses, the GEs of the world, their watching, ETNAs, they want to know what we're doing, and the plan that has been floated and the professionals, the Moody's, the Fitch's, they are all saying this is not the best plan, but it is a plan, and they support it. They are saying this will lead us towards getting to where we need to be. This is only one step of getting to that program.

So, I've seen private businesses refinance all the time, and then when they make a huge profit windfall they pay it down and then they'll do it again, so how you manage that is what's important. It's not shirking your responsibility and sometimes you're faced with doing things you wouldn't rather do, so we're faced with the same thing.

We have circumstances that are forcing our hand and it is not an easy answer. And doing nothing is probably the worst thing you can do because it just continues to continue the problem. So, until I see a clear plan on how we're going to pay for this, we still have to manage our budget this moment. Are we going to increase revenues? I don't think there is an appetite for that. Do we want to decrease services for those that need it? I don't think there is an appetite for that. Do we want to borrow any money? I don't think we have an appetite for that. So, what alternatives do we have? You have to pick a path. It might not be the path you want as your first choice, but at some point you have to make a difficult decision and find the way through. You have to break through the wall. This is a way to break through that wall to get to where we need to be. It stabilizes our payments, it allows us to catch up to where we need to be so that we can prepay those future payments so we don't have to make those balloon payments.

I would posit that this is the right course to take, and it will benefit our future. And I don't think destroying the pensions of the people that would be coming into public service is the only solution towards fixing that problem. So, I hope everyone finds a way to support this measure. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Larson.

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Thank you, Madam Chairman, I rise in support of this resolution. First of all, I would like to congratulate Governor Malloy on the successful negotiations with the state employees. Governor Malloy has made that in his tenure his mission to do his best efforts to fully fund state pensions, which will down the road save us millions of dollars. He has taken those bold steps and appropriated those dollars to eliminate future considerations.

I'd also like to congratulate the state employees who have actually worked on this negotiation and have been helpful in providing this particular solution. As my colleague, Senator Leone, has just mentioned, this is a step forward.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to be the Mayor in the town of East Hartford, and back in that time it was called Asset Smoothing, and we used a similar formula, if you will, to save the town of East Hartford and immeasurable amount of money and keep the lights on in the building. This is difficult times. There is no way around it. We understand what we need to do as a governing body.

This solution, I believe, is the step clearly in the right direction. You know, I'm a glass half full sort of a guy. I have been the recipient of Pratt & Whitney, developing their world headquarters in my hometown. We have seen the efforts of Sikorsky and what has gone on in preserving those great jobs here and in Eastern Connecticut, Electric Boat. I think our best days are ahead of us. We do have opportunities within the confines of these plans. There is a finite number of solutions that we would need to do prospectively, looking at different options prospectively, but for today, this is a very good plan. It helps us balance our state budget, and I would commend all of those involved in this.

We have often times, I think, take our state employees for granted and have this huge target on their back. Yesterday when we left here out of our busy Committee meetings, the roads were slippery, and all day long we heard about traffic and weather reports, and people driving trucks, and state police giving us safety on our way home. You know, the notion of overtime in pension calculations is a management tool. And certainly, you know, one can argue that those state employees put in the time for that overtime benefit. I believe that is certainly an item that could be addressed and potentially looked at down the road, but I think we often times think that these calculations and so forth, that these state employees are contributing to their pension. They are putting in the work. They are getting to work each and every day to provide the services that we require of them. We are not a business. We are not a profit-making entity. We don't have the luxury of raising our prices here and there in order to accommodate swings in the market. We have obligations to our residents to keep us safe, secure, and moving forward. Again, I want to commend the state employee's union and our Governor, for reaching a consolidation on this and moving the state forward. Thank you very much.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Thank you, Madam. I rise too in support of this bill. This is kind of interesting for me. As many of you know, I taught at the Community College of Manchester. I was a Sociologist. I knew nothing about numbers and I can tell you today, I'm still pretty weak at numbers. So, when I look at some of the graphs and the charts, I can't flip through them, I go through them line by line, trying to figure out what they mean, and doing the numbers the best I can. When I need advice or professional help, I go to an accountant or whoever it might be, a banker, and so on, because I very simply have never had that kind of background.

I have been now six years here in the Senate. I've heard many times the advice to us as democrats that we should be listening to the business community. We should understand when CBIA suggests that we do A, B, or C, it's good for the State of Connecticut. But the rating agencies, if they don't do this or they don't do that, or if we don't do this or we don't do that, half the time I have to figure out what you're talking about, but it has a negative impact on everything we do.

Today, the rating agencies and CBIA and the business community are saying, “Do this. Do this. Help stabilize Connecticut so that we can move forward and have a plan, so that we have an idea of where we're going. ” We also know, because we've heard negotiations just come up on this, for months they have been involved in negotiations. This is part of that probably. And we know there are ongoing negotiations. And quite honestly, I would bet anything that many of the suggestions from Senator Formica, from others here, are items that are very much on the table. As a former mayor, like Tim, I had to deal with these. We had two recent sessions in the 14 years I was mayor. And during that period of time we did sit down and we did negotiate, we did work out. Because honestly, the state employees are no different than local employees. They do what's best for the people they work for, whether it's the State of Connecticut or the municipality, or mayor of. If the business community and the rating communities are saying, “This is a good move. It helps us move forward. It helps Connecticut get out of the hole,” then there shouldn't be a debate, we should move to pass it. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRANTANA (6TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I rise in support of this resolution. You know, we are talking here today about a resolution. A resolution that is long, long-time coming, I must admit. But it does go to the heart of what we're talking about and that is pension stability, something that certainly I care very much about. You know, there is always a lot of discussion about our state employees and what they do or what they don't do. I do know that they are and have been and will be part of this discussion and you know what, we are all state employees here too. We are part of this discussion. That discussion for reform is down the road, I believe it's appropriate, but right now, what we're doing is the right thing to do, the right thing to look at a solution that will bring stability here in our state that we need.

Now, I'll talk to my constituents too, because very often when I meet with them, I also speak in very plain English and certainly I can identify, as many of my constituents can, with the fact that very often when we do take out, if you will, a mortgage, we do have to refinance, and that refinance can sometimes mean avoiding balloon payments at the end and that's exactly the situation that we are in today. And, you know, I just want to say that, I think it was Senator Larson who mentioned that we would save millions of dollars. We will save billions of dollars down the road. This is absolutely an essential measure that we are taking here today. I believe it is good policy. It is a resolution. It is a resolution. We have a way to go before we actually tackle a reform. I hope that we will have that opportunity to do that. And I hope that we all remember we are all state employees and we are all part of this conversation. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam. Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, I rise to discuss the matter at hand today, which is a debate and ultimately a decision over essentially refinancing our pension obligations as a state.

So, to first understand what we are debating today, I think it's important, we have to understand how we got here. And in 1928, we decided that a good way to attract folks to work for this state was to offer pensions. And it used to be that folks who worked for the state and for municipalities and I think it still is today, there was just a level of appreciation from the community for people that held these positions and that was -- that was a huge part of it. They also believed that these pensions would be sufficient for their retirement. And I think it goes without saying that all of us in this circle have a tremendous amount of respect for our state employees, for folks that get up every day and work to make this state better. And it's something that we all have a great amount of appreciation and respect for folks that help us, that helped us build this state.

One of the issues, however, is that since 1928, the economy has changed. There has been new forms of retirement tools and mechanisms, and today if you look at the amount of pensions that are still out there as a means of recruiting new employees, it's very rare that you see someone getting offered a pension. Today, many young people, I'm 28 years old, many young people across the state and across the country don't expect to have any pensions, they don't expect to have Social Security when we retire. We don't, quite honestly, expect to have any support from government for retirement.

It's just very unlikely, and I think a lot of folks my age that are getting into the workforce or younger people leaving college getting into the workforce see the world a lot differently now. And we should be considering ways to make it so that people that are getting a job as a state employees for the first time, are getting a 401(k), so that they can look at and review their retirement plan every week, just like everyone else in the workforce, in the private workforce.

I think that would add to our retirement security. And today, instead of looking at 401(k)s, instead of looking at ways to ask state employees to add to the chance that they're going to be able to collect a pension by contributing more to their retirement. Instead of doing those things, we are essentially refinancing our debt that is owed, $ 6 billion for $ 22. 4 billion more, from 2032 to 2047.

Now, I know that for some of you, you know, that's so far down the road it doesn't matter. But it matters a whole lot to young people in this state because that's a hurdle that we're going to have to cross and we're going to have to have -- watch -- see our children and grandchildren cross. That's a very concerning number, $ 22. 4 billion more. So, we're kicking the can down the road. What we really ought to do, as I mentioned before, is find ways to reform our pensions, our benefits with state employees. Now, as an employer myself, the one thing we look for when we are recruiting new people to work for our business is, what's market rate for a job, a CFO? What's market rate for a CFO? What's market rate for a marketing director? And that's how we're able to come up with a price and a 401(k) strategy for that employee.

I think that now we have to be looking at what's market rate for municipalities, for state employees across the country. And if you look at what's happening across the country, we actually have the lowest level of state employees required contributions out of any state. Right now, 25 percent of our state employees don't contribute to their pension. And the ones that do, can contribute as little as two percent to their overall pension; that's the lowest in the nation. As a result, we have the greatest amount of unfunded liabilities. If we increase that to six or eight percent, we would see solvency in our pension plan. Also, we have COLAs approximately three percent; that is, very high cost of living adjustments at that level are unreasonable in this day and age. Not many people get a three percent raise year after year.

Also, another area we can find a tremendous amount of savings is in overtime and travel reimbursement, which we budgeted for over $ 200 million dollars for. I've gone around the district, talked to state employees about this and often times they will say to me. You know, I feel guilty almost about the health and copay benefits that they receive. Almost embarrassed by it, and they are actually suggesting to me that they would be willing to contribute more to the fund, to the pot, so they can guarantee there is something there for the future. And I think that there is a willingness from state employees to contribute more to adjust the COLAs, to change longevity and overtime pay. And I think they want to do that because they want the retirement security in the end.

Another area of concern that I think has been raised through this discussion has to do with the return on our capital. Now, I think it was last week the Wall Street Journal announced that Dow Jones hit a record 20,000 points, it's a record for the Dow and in the past eight years the S&P 500 had an annualized return of 16 percent. The state's capitol saw an annual return of two percent. So, we have to get a better understanding of why we missed that boat; how could we have missed the opportunity to see those returns from the State Treasurer's Office.

We need to dive into that a little more. But ultimately, I think that we have missed the mark here on this opportunity to really and truly reform pensions and businesses are paying very close attention to this because they see this $ 22. 4 billion more that we've contracted for, and CFOs and boards of directors are looking at these numbers and they are saying eventually, we're going to have to pay for that because government is not a business. It doesn't produce anything. It is simply here to allow commerce to flourish and to protect the people of Connecticut, but this is a hole that businesses, especially big ones, are very concerned about.

Now, just across the street in Rhode Island, we are seeing pension reform. We are seeing real policy changes that are acting as a magnet for new businesses. Governor Raimondo is making those efforts clear, making it known that she has the backbone and the courage to make the right decisions, and that's the kind of leadership that we need. It's very simple. This decision can accelerate more problems for our state. But if we were to just make -- change the course, put Connecticut on the right track by making these more challenging decisions, we would see more businesses stay, we'd see more people trust and have more confidence in their own retirement plans, and ultimately it would be better for this state. That's why, Madam President, I will be voting against this bill. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Martin.

SENATOR MARTIN (31ST):

Thank you, Madam President. I wasn't planning on speaking, but I've been listening here and first of all, I'd like to applaud the Governor for actually, for addressing this fiscal issue. It's been long overdue. And also to Senator Leone, you know, he mentioned that this was the first step in the process and I agree with him. I think this is a good -- a very good start in this, in this process of addressing the fiscal issue that faces our state. Simply though, what we have in front of us is simply a refinance. I'm a real estate broker. I see this on a regular basis. And it's really -- we are buying ourselves some time. I know that Senator McLachlan made reference to credit cards that were tapped out back in 2009 and people refinancing or adding those to their home equity loans and they're refinancing their homes and in the end the results weren't that good.

However, it is an opportunity for us to buy ourselves some time and the results from the spreadsheet that I have here in front of me is, you know, we are saving $ 575 million dollars in the first year and then another half a billion dollars the following year and it will help. There is no two questions about it.

However, in the long run, it does concern me. And adding -- should we follow this and continue for the next 30 years, we are adding another $ 11 billion dollars, assuming some of these, some of these projections or assumptions are correct. And then I just feel it is simply wrong for us to pass this along that future debt to the next generation. What I've heard here is reform and that there is going to be further conversation, which I'm happy to hear about. I think that's what everybody is anticipating on us doing is pension reform and getting our fiscal house in order. It sounds like it is going to take place.

What I haven't heard, though, is if should we agree to this pension financing agreement that this is going to be revisited, that this is going to be part of the wider discussion that Senator McLachlan made mention to. I don't think that we should just agree to this and this is set in stone for the next 30 years and we can't -- we should not be revisiting this. I think we do have to go back to it simply because we just cannot pass this along to our next generation. If that was the case, I think my vote would be different today. And let me just add one other thing, and I'll finish. It's that wider picture of the wider discussion not only should include the pension reform that we're all talking about here today, but also the ones that are ongoing from what I understand, but I should also address the definitions for the constitutional spending cap, I think that should be part of the discussion.

So, I'm going to close. I'm not going to be voting in favor of this today, but I did want to make my remarks known that there is a wider picture that we should be looking at and perhaps this -- reopening this agreement today, should it pass, should be part of that as well. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Martin. Will you remark? Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I rise to address the resolution before us.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you very much. First of all, I want to begin by thanking the state employees for their willingness to yet again allow the State of Connecticut to take advantage of their good will and to continue to underfund the payments to the retirement account on which their retirement security rests.

The fact that state employee's unions are willing to take the risk of continued underfunding of the retirement security, suggests a willingness to proceed and to step to the plate and address the larger issues that loom ahead and should be addressed now. Deferring the real solution indefinitely will only make the pain worse. It is the larger issues that we must address now.

When I was a community banker working with entrepreneurial companies, we helped many companies get started and we helped many companies grow. And occasionally, occasionally we would help them out of difficult situations. Ironically, doing something very similar to what is proposed today. We would do what was known as a troubled debt restructure that would allow the company time to buy time and to allow the company to get back on its feet. But our cooperation was always conditioned on a plan to address and a plan to correct the real problems causing the financial distress. We would never nearly restructure the debt and allow management to continue business as usual. We always insisted on confronting and addressing he underlying problems as an indispensable part to a successful solution of a difficult financial situation.

The continuation of business as usual, delaying the payment of large obligations, while failing to address the real underlying problems, is not a solution. It is a repeat of the mistakes of the past. You cannot solve a fiscal crisis, like the one we're in, on a piecemeal basis. The longer we delay, the longer we procrastinate, the greater the pain and the stronger the medicine needed to restore our state to fiscal health. Every single person in the State of Connecticut will pay a higher price.

The mess we are in was foreseeable, and it should have been addressed long before now. This temporary solution that has been proposed is not a final solution and, in fact, what's being proposed today could be and may very well be a part of the larger solution, part of a comprehensive plan to address the real problems that are causing the financial distress we are experiencing now.

So, I want to again thank the state employees for their willingness to step to the plate and help us through the looming fiscal crisis. I hope you will come to the table again with the Governor and collaborate, not on a piecemeal solution one step at a time, but a comprehensive plan that will address the real problems and resolve our fiscal crisis now, not later. I hope that today we reject the plan that is before us, but at the same time send a message to our state employees that we do appreciate their generous offer and we do welcome them back with a similar offer, but only as part of a comprehensive plan that will address the real problems and be a real solution, not a piecemeal solution to the very real, very serious financial crisis our state is currently in. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark? Senator Kelly, good afternoon, sir. Senator Kelly, please.

SENATOR KELLY (21ST):

Good afternoon, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR KELLY (21ST):

Like Senator Suzio just mentioned, I do thank the state employees for coming to the table to work with our Governor to try and fashion a response to a financial issue that we have before us, and I certainly believe and support the idea that our government needs to work collaboratively with their employees so that we can maintain and improve the quality of services that our constituents demand of their government. But I'm not sure that the proposal before us is the answer to that issue that we have.

What we're trying to fix with this, I'm going to say refinancing agreement, is a $ 4 to $ 6 billion-dollar problem that's going to be here in 15 years. And one of the things that went through my mind initially, was why now? Why does it have to happen today? And I never really got a good answer. Because quite frankly, there are other issues that are just as important, if not more so, and are just as financially troubling and yet in the six years that I've been here, I haven't really seen the focus that is needed to be placed on the issue. As a Co-Chairman of the Aging Committee and for the past six years as a ranking member, I have put forward initiative after initiative to deal with an issue called Aging in Place. I have put that initiative forward because people in Connecticut want to age in their home, which is what they want, it's less expensive and better. The demographic today is that 14 percent of our population is over the age of 65. We're spending greater than 10 percent of our state budget on that in regards to aid to nursing facilities, which is roughly $ 2. 8 billion dollars annually. We know that baby boomers moved in retirement two years ago, and in the next 15 years, they will be over the age of 65. One-third of Connecticut is a baby boomer, one-third. So, if we take the 14 that is already there, we know the fastest aging area is people over the age of 80, and you bring in a third of Connecticut, can we sustain and pay, to triple or double that 2. 8 percent, $ 2. 8 billion-dollar appropriation? The answer is no. And those numbers are going to be in the same range as $ 5 to $ 6 billion dollars.

So, why isn't that being dealt with today? Why aren't we looking at those numbers? That's a fiscal cliff that's going to come, because the demographic is aging. God knows, we'd like to stop the clock on aging, but that's not going to happen, we know that. But this, this demographic, if we don't deal with our aging in place initiatives and start to put in place the right policies, we're going to have another problem in 15 years. And I want to know when we're going to start dealing with that issue? Because that's just as important. The only difference is the proposal before us, the Pension Refinancing Agreement, basically just smooths out what the state has to pay today and puts it on the backs of our children and future generations. We have a $ 4 to $ 6 billion-dollar problem, and what is before us is an $ 11 billion-dollar solution. Let's state that again. We have got a $ 4 or $ 6 billion-dollar problem, with an $ 11 billion-dollar solution, and we wonder why the state is in a financial mess. This is why we're in a financial mess.

Plain and simple, we're paying two to three times what we should. And this doesn't have to happen today and it's not the only way to do it. There are other ways to get to where we need to be, but they're not before us today. So, as a parent, I didn't run for this office to put the burdens, the financial burdens of today on the backs of my kids or the kids of the families of Connecticut. I cannot and I will not do that. Our kids deserve better. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark further? Senator Witkos, good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. I just wanted to make sure there were no other folks that wanted to speak before leadership spoke on the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

You know, I read in a comment because with today's social media, things happen instantaneously and somebody in this building declared that this is war, and it's not war, this is a difference of opinions on a public policy matter. And I think we're taking it to the extreme when we start classifying things to that degree.

You know, I have often spoke about my tenure as a police officer, being a member of a union, and having the ability to participate in a defined contribution plan and collective bargaining agreement process and negotiating pension plans. We always wanted to make sure when annually we got the actuaries report that the town funded their portion, because we as employees didn't have a choice, it was taken out of our paychecks, so we know that the employee portion was always 100 percent funded. For me it was a great career. I enjoy every month when I collect my pension check, and I know what I paid for my benefits. And here, as all of us sit around the circle, we are all part of the pension plan as a state employee.

So, we are all paying into our pension plan, it's taken out of our either monthly paycheck or five-month paycheck or six-month paycheck, however you wanted to opt your payment, we don't have a choice, it's just taken out. But what we've seen is, over the years, state government hasn't made their portion into the pension plan for payment. And I don't fault the state employees to be upset and they come back every year and teachers come back every year because they see the amount of the level of funding of this plan drop and drop and drop. And most actuaries would say a healthy pension plan is around 82 percent 85 percent funding level, and ours is downwards in the 40s, potentially in the 30s. And that's not good. We see that because the investors that rate our state give us negative outlooks or downgrade our performance because of one of these measures.

But I don't believe that if we vote no today, no doesn't necessarily mean that we don't agree that the employees should get their pension checks; no doesn't mean that we're going to drive off of a cliff tomorrow; no doesn't mean that anything is going to change tomorrow or next year. No means that we need to discuss it more and have all of the information available to us. Now, I'm aware that governors in the past, both republicans and democrats have extended the agreement that covers healthcare and pension for state employees for long periods of time, whether it's five years, nine years, 11 years, that's a long time and a lot of stuff can happen year after year after year. And so, the current agreement expires in 2022, it will be time for the executive branch and SEBAC to sit down to renegotiate the pension plan and the healthcare plan. Everything may stay the same or it may change, but we just don't know what's going to happen.

We know that as of, I believe it's June 30, 2022, it expires and the parties will have to come together to negotiate. And that is a process that I believe we should let unfold. Because nothing happens before 2022. There is no cliff, you've heard a lot of dates thrown out and a lot of numbers, we're just going to as a state continue to make our payments and the employees will continue to come to work and make their payments and that date on the calendar gets closer and closer and closer. Because there is some question out there that maybe, depending on how its negotiated, you may see an increase of contributions, you may see a decrease in what the assumed return on investments is, greater than one percent, if we want to be realistic on what we're getting back on our investments through the pension plan. So, that may change the outstanding liability, where we don't have to have as much money in there, from the state's perspective, ultimately the taxpayer's perspective. But I do not degrade the employees who work every single day for the benefit that they've earned and are obligated to have through the course of their employment. But it's how do we pay for it at this point. And a no vote means we continue to pay for it in a fashion that we're paying for it today.

I'm aware that information came to light over the past two weeks or within less than two weeks of some numbers changing. And so, it's very difficult to make a decision on numbers that have changed. And if we're talking a number that ends with a dollar sign and the word “billion,” that's a hard thing to swallow, a number changed, it's not something like a couple hundred dollars here, a couple hundred dollars there, we're talking billions of dollars. And we talk of billions of dollars in this building like it's nothing. But it's huge. A billion is a huge number, and I'm talking more than one billion.

So, I'm not going to be supporting it today, Madam President, because I believe that we have plenty of time, plenty of opportunities to study the issue, to wait until 2022 when the bargain agreement comes up for renegotiation to see the executive branch, whoever happens to be sitting in the governor's chair and whoever happens to be reporting SEBAC at the time, sit down and negotiate from both sides; what's best for the employees, what's best for the state, and then we make the determination based on that. I don't think we should be interfering with that process and by this vote today, I believe we are interfering because there is no cliff until after 2022. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, sir. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I rise to support the underlying resolution that we have here before us today. You know, in listening to the debate, I feel like I'm a little bit in a tale of two cities. I hear on one hand talk about wanting to meet our obligations and on the other hand, we should, but it's not good enough and it leaves, I'm sure it leaves the listener a little confused as to really what we're doing and what the debate is really all about. The debate is actually pretty simple.

We have heard for many years here in this circle and around the State of Connecticut about getting our pension obligations under control, about managing the finances of the State of Connecticut and working through that so that we can have predictability and stability, grow our economy, grow jobs, and make life better for the residents of the State of Connecticut. And while many of us know that there is really no magic bullet to do that, it's a step by step process. Some of those decisions are difficult decisions and maybe some are easier than others, but certainly correcting errors of the past requires some courage, some difficult decisions, some things that may not have immediate impact, but over the long term, we know is really the right thing to do.

I think today we find ourselves in a situation where it is the right thing to do and we know that it's going to have long term implications that will be good for the State of Connecticut. It's not to say that it's perfect, and we don't want to make this sound like it's a perfect resolution to the issue, but it is something, certainly a better course than we are currently on right now. But I think the bigger issue really is, is how did we get here in the first place? If I were at home listening to this debate, I'd say, “Geez must have been all of you who have gotten us into this place over the last five or six or seven years. You're finally correcting mistakes that you made. ” And I would think that would be a reasonable assumption, based on the debate today from some of my colleagues.

But I have to remind the folks who are listening that these issues were compounded and began back in the 1930s. I don't know that anybody was here back in the 1930s. This might have still been the Connecticut State Library back then, I don't know. And it certainly wasn't something that any of us really had anything to do with in the '40s or the '50s or the '60s or the '70s. Certainly, when I was in elementary and middle school in the '80s, that wasn't -- I wasn't thinking about the pension obligations of the State of Connecticut, when legislatures back then and governors back then were making all the wrong decisions and not saving for their obligations.

Certainly, the state employees were putting their money away, but not the state. The state did decide to change benefits and we have Tier I and Tier II, Tier IIA and Tier 3 that started in 2011 and was agreed on in 2011. But the state really didn't get serious about saving for pensions until really the mid '90s. And so, we're here today based on all of those bad decisions from decades' past, compounded by an agreement signed by two governors ago and approved by the legislature that purposely underfunded pensions, pension payments that put us where this cliff is in addition to not paying for the pensions actually as should have been done.

So, while it's easy to blame the folks who were actually trying to address the problem, the real issue and I don't want to say blame anybody, but the real problems have been from decades ago. So, we're here today after the last -- first time over the last six years actually fully funding our pension obligations when it had never been done before.

So, if you think about where we are with most current employees for Tier II, Tier IIA, Tier III, we are 95 to 95 percent funded, fully funded, for our pension obligations. I think everybody would say here that that's actually pretty good. Where's our issue? Where's our problem? Back in Tier I again. Where that ended back in 1984, I believe it was. So, again, I wasn't thinking about that when I was on the playground at Marvin Elementary School, I'm sorry, maybe I should have been, but we're here today thinking about how do we pay down our debt in a responsible way, how do we live up to the contracts that we have, so that we can have predictability and stability for our job market, for our businesses, and they understand that we're taking this stuff very seriously. So, that's what leads us here today to this agreement.

So, we know that we will no longer ramp up to the $ 6 billion-dollar payment in 2032. I'm not quite sure how anybody would think that that is even affordable. And that we will stabilize, we are going to continue to grow, we are going to stabilize those payments and smooth out that cliff over time. And I think that that is the right thing to do. Again, nobody here is blamed for any of that pension that had been accumulated and not paid for for decades and decades and decades, but it's our responsibility here right now to address that. And I don't remember any other governor coming back and saying, “Here's the way to address that,” but this governor has. Our SEBAC agreement, our SEBAC folks have said, “We have an agreement. Let's get it done. We will smooth this out so that we can make it better for the residents of the State of Connecticut, whether they are a state employees or not a state employee.

And, so, I believe that while there is no perfect solution to a debt that must be paid, it's not like we can say we're not going to pay it. Well, there is no solution to the debt that has to be paid, there are good, better, and best, and this is probably one of the best solutions that we're going to be able to find.

So, I am in agreement that we need the pension stability for us, and this is a first step towards pension stability, and I'm glad that we're here and able to debate this. That, but it is important for the residents of the State of Connecticut to understand how we got here and who is working to find solutions to this as well.

So, Madam President, I will sit down, but I just wanted to, again, make sure that people understood the reason why we cast our votes today, whether it be yes or no, but also understand the history as to what brought us to this Chamber today on this particular resolution. I would certainly urge my colleagues to vote yes on the resolution. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Senator Fasano, good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

Good afternoon, President, thank you so much. Madam President, if I may, first of all, I want to thank Senator Looney. When Senator Looney and I realized we were at a tie, we talked about this issue and Senator Looney talked about the fact that we would have this debate. So, I appreciate and I thank Senator Looney for allowing this debate to happen. I think it is important.

Madam President, if I just may for a moment, say, I want to read something and it will be very brief.

“Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced a change to the pension funding plan that will avoid a spike in the state's obligation in fiscal year 2032, avoiding a potential fiscal crisis. Under the current contribution plan, the state would have made one-time payments of $ 4. 5 billion in 2032 in order to reach full funding. The restructuring will save nearly $ 6 billion dollars over 20 years, put the system back on the road to long-term sustainability, something that is currently not the case. The key to managing state long-term liabilities is to reverse the historic chronic underfunding of the state's pension system.

Madam President, that press release was written January 23, 2012. It is apropos today as it was January 1, 2012. So, what are we doing? In 2012, I thought we fixed this. We rolled back 4 and 5 provisions, eliminated them that Senator Duff alluded to before, and we were going to get us back, according to this press release; no pension payment was going to get above $ 2 billion dollars, none. And we'd be 80 percent funded by 2025. Sound familiar? Because the issue is we're not solving the problem. How did we get here? Senator Duff talked about some of the things he got -- that got us here, and he's right. We got here because when Tier I went into effect, the legislature back then and future legislatures henceforth failed to make the appropriate contributions to pension Tier I.

Tier I is funded at 25 percent. It's the most expensive one, but it's only funded at 25 percent. Tier II, et cetera, is funded at 62-63 percent, which is about the average, it's a little bit below, but not bad, about the average. When you combine the two, you're at 35 percent; what does that mean in real life? If you're investing money in a pension plan that's 35 percent vested, you have to keep it liquid, which means you can't get the greater return on the money. So, Tier I people are holding back Tier II people because you combine them, and you can't get the expected return.

Governor Malloy talked about separating Tier I, and there was some pushback, but that never happened. He might have had something there. I'm not sure, but it should have been looked at, which raises the question, why are we in a rush? Why are we in a rush? We all know everybody in this building got the numbers a week ago, yesterday. Governor Malloy's numbers were $ 2. 3 billion, before it dropped down to $ 1. 7 billion after 2032. Now, we know the numbers are $ 2. 5 billion, and drops down to $ 2 billion. So, the numbers changed.

Under the first plan, we would have saved about $ 80 million dollars in our budget, which lead me to believe at that time, when I was on Appropriations, if we're only saving $ 80 million dollars, obviously, this plan wasn't done to balance our budget. Maybe there is some merit to this plan, so I voted yes, and I wrote to Governor Malloy and told him, I voted yes out of respect for the Governor, even though the new numbers came in, but I wanted the opportunity to review the new numbers. Well, the new numbers said that we were going to not pay the unions $ 1. 1 billion dollars in year one.

You have got to stop and say, “What is going on? We owe the pension plan a ton of money, and we're going to cheat the state union employees by not giving them what they're owed so we can balance the budget?” So, what are we solving for? Are we solving for methodology to fix the budget? Are we solving for methodology that helps us have a pension problem? If you stick that $ 1. 1 billion dollars into our pension, does that mean our grandkids don't pay so much? If you pay a little bit more now, while we're doing our budget, does that influence the curve? Well, those are questions we wanted to ask. So, we asked the Comptroller if we could get a hold of the actuary and run some numbers. The Comptroller did a great job and said, “Yes, you can. ” And we started to enter a deal on Friday. Actuary person said, “We're not going to be able to get you the numbers until after Wednesday,” which lead me to write the letter to the Governor saying, “Listen,” and to the unions, “postpone this, this may be a good deal. It may not be a good deal, but let's run some numbers now that you got the real numbers, six days ago, let's run some numbers to make sure this is the best plan to fund a promise we made to state employees and the best plan for the taxpayers. ” What is wrong about that?

Nothing is going to happen if they took the deal off the table and said, “Let's look at the numbers and run them. ” This payment isn't due until 2032. So, why not run the numbers and wait a week, we're here in session, not going to cost $ 11,000 to pull us back in to have us talk about it again. Why not run the numbers?

When you say, you have a plan to fix it, a lack of options doesn't mean the plan in front of you is the best plan. It means it's the lack of option plan they put in front of you. There is nobody in this room who can tell me that they were in negotiations or they talked to the unions and here are four or five different plans, which we could have choosed from. Look, we have an obligation to say this is open and transparent is questionable at best. What was open and transparent? The negotiations took place when we weren't in session. They finished up on December 18th, we asked for numbers. Numbers went out, completely different numbers from a week ago. So, what's the rush? To say, we're kicking the can on down the road doesn't do it justice. We're shooting that out of a cannon. This is going to 2047, 30 years from now. And as Senator Markley put it, because he's older than me, I think, he's going to be 90 by the time this deal gets to the end line. Kids yet born are going to paying for this bill. Workers not even in the system are going to be subject to this bill.

So, what I had said was, look, we need to look at this issue. I also asked, if there is -- there's 17 union contracts and I met with the unions, they said 30, I don't know, I'm sticking with 17, I'm sure there right at 30, but I want to say 17, being negotiated. The question I posed was, “If there is a chance, a slight chance that there is going to be a reopening of the SEBAC agreement for any reason whatsoever, any reason whatsoever, we should do it all at once. We should do the union contracts, the 17, we should talk about the SEBAC agreement and do it all.

If Governor Malloy had not in 2011 pushed the SEBAC agreement five years, we would be doing everything today. If he has that opportunity, we should bring it back to the table and do all of that today. So, if that's going to happen, if that SEBAC agreement gets open and if it gets extended, why would you not have the pensions on the table during that conversation? Why should we not look at this thing in all of its parts? To say this is predictable and stable, is without a doubt wrong. Why? We currently -- in our formula, we move it from an 8 percent return to a 6. 9 percent return. Our average over 16-year-return on investment was 4. 7. Our 10-year-average was 3. 9, nowhere near the 6. 9 percent return. So, what does that mean? Every two years, like this year, they're going to look and say, “Did you achieve your investment?” “No. ” “Well, now we need to take that money and you got to come up with more money.

So, the $ 2. 5 billion that we're saying is a stable amount is not a stable amount, it's going to go up. It's going to go up because the investments are not coming near that amount. We have to be fair to the state unions. It isn't fair going back to those members and say, “Come on, you gotta give more, you gotta give more, you gotta give more. ” It's up to us to sit back and say, we need to figure out what other plans are available, put them out there, look at them, and then say, this perhaps and maybe this comes out to be a winner, I don't know.

But we need to have the opportunity to look at it. To say that the rating agencies approve this, to stay that CBIA approved this, to say that some other business organizations approve this, no, no, they approved the old numbers. They didn't approve the new numbers. They have not seen the new numbers, well they might have seen them by now, but they didn't pass muster on that. And look how they're looking at it.

The question is, there is a spike coming in 2032, is that a good thing or bad thing? Well, it's a bad thing, you've got a balloon payment on your house, it's a bad thing unless you're ready to pay it off. So, you smooth it out, yeah, that makes sense, but what are the other moving parts; because I talked to CBIA and I talked to Hartford Alliance, and I talked to other business leaders and explained if we could do this whole thing at once, why not? Are there other options? They said, “We were just told either this or that. ” We don't have to accept that.

We're the legislature. We could say it's not this or that, there could be something else out there, and we had the time to do it. When you talk about good governance, I heard someone today say, “Frankly Senate Republicans don't have good governance, they didn't step up to the plate. ” Well, I got to tell you, I don't think it's good governance when you get figures less than six days to go on an extremely complicated formula, to say within six days I've digested it and I've done it.

I sat with OFA three times. I have a white board. It looks like a NASA moon mission has landed with all the numbers on my white board, because this is complicated stuff and it takes time to digest it and to learn it and that's all I've been doing for three weeks, that's why I've been going back and forth, but once I got the final concepts, I said, “It doesn't make sense. ” Good governance is not just being told it's a good deal in passing in, but to understand the mechanics of the deal and understand the intricacy of the deal and how they affect the everyday life of everybody sitting in this building, including union members.

Is it good governance to pass this to your grandkids and your children? I don't think so. Is it good governance not to look at any other formula but one and say we have to do this? I don't think so. So, when it comes to governance, I think it's our obligation to look at different issues. Somebody else said, “If he breaks it, he owns it. ” I accept that challenge. I accept that challenge. Our caucus has never been afraid and everyone knows it. To accept a challenge like that whether it's budget, which we've always done, we've accepted every challenge, they might have been rejected, but we're not afraid of a challenge. We're not afraid of a struggle. We're not afraid of bringing ideas to the table. And on this issue, yes, we'll own it, and if you don't want to fix it, whoever said that, we'll fix it. I don't have a problem with that.

Madam President, the issue that I'm faced with is I think telling union members that we owe you a billion dollars and we're counting that as a savings so that our budget woes could be less, begs to question are we doing this deal to help union members, are we doing this deal to ease the pain because we can't do a good budget with that deficit. And to me, we have a greater obligation to the union members to pay what we owe as opposed to saying no, we're going to once again take from you. What would be the difference if we paid them when we borrowed the money? That's what we're doing?

We're just saying to every grandchild and every child, we're going to borrow that billion dollars, by the way until 2032 every time we're going to borrow money, and you guys are going to pay our tab. I don't even comprehend that. I thought that's what we talked about way back when. We have a greater responsibility.

This isn't a republican or democrat, this isn't anti-union, pro-union, this is setting the stage that we keep our promises legislators, and we turn the state in a reasonable fiscal direction that we all can agree on and move forward. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Senator Looney, good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR LOONEY (11TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I rise in support of the resolution. Obviously, there is a history of underfunding here that we are trying to deal with and trying to deal with it responsibly in this resolution. Obviously, the State Employee Retirement System, which was created in I believe 1939, was managed as a pay-as-you-go plan until 1971. In 1992, there was a plan adopted to pay off the unfunded liability that had accrued to that point by 2032, which is of course the number, the year we're dealing with now, and seen that as the crisis year in which we would be facing a $ 6 billion-dollar balloon payment. But, subsequent agreements altered the plan to significantly lower the contributions even at a time when Connecticut was generating surpluses in the late 1990s.

I recall in the, I guess it was around 1997 where Governor Rowland, as a condition of having a budget deal, insisted on $ 50 rebates to be sent to everyone in the state, rather than being willing to address the pension shortfall at that time and the unfunded liability, which was becoming a factor that people were very much aware of but not taking action on at that point.

In 2015, the Boston College study that was commissioned by OPM, pointed out that the main cost driver for the State Employee Retirement System is the unfunded liability from those legacy costs and funding shortfalls, but not from any overly generous benefits to members.

So, it is important to know that the members are not receiving overly generous benefits by national standards. And, in fact, when compared to similar plans across the nation, the BC study found that the normal cost for both State Employees Retirement System and the Teachers Retirement System, is below average as a percent of employee payroll. And for the State Employee Retirement System, the normal costs are expected to decline further, as Tier III members with lower benefits replace current Tier II and IIA members, so it is important to know that each of the plans of course adopted since 1984, the year in which membership in the Tier III plan, Tier I plan was closed to new members, each plan has been significantly less generous and has had more cost connected that the employee bears and higher percentages of employee contributions than the one before.

So, there was a long-term arch of cutting costs and as Senator Duff and others mentioned earlier, the primary problem we have is with the cost of that Tier I plan, which went unaddressed for so long and the Governor had actually proposed then separating out and dealing with separately from the others. But this plan, Madam President, does make an important move forward in changing the assumed rate of return from a percent to 6. 9 percent, that now does put us under the national average of assumed rate of return. Again, a move in the right direction, even if that 6. 9 arguably is above the level certainly has been reached in most recent years. But it does increase our calculated unfunded liability and our normal cost calculations, but it better insulates us from volatility in our unfunded liability in the future. But it is important to know that without the changes in this agreement, payments will skyrocket, potentially hitting that $ 6 billion-dollar figure by 2032. And with the changes in this agreement, payments would level off at $ 2. 6 billion by 2021. So, there is a significant capping here and a limitation of liability during those years.

Again, the fiscal '18 costs for current employees again will only be about $ 365 million, the cost associated with the unfunded liability is about $ 1. 2 billion. Again, looking back to that Tier I problem. But again, if we change the assumed rate of return without adopting the agreement, we will have that $ 570 million-dollar problem in fiscal year '18. It's important I think to look at what the rating services have said, both Moody's and Standard and Poor's rate of the agreement as credit positive. Moody's said it allows for more affordable pension contributions and a more conservative investment rate assumption. We also have significant commentary from business leaders in our state, indicating support for the agreement and recognizing that it is turning a corner in the right direction.

Oz Griebel, of the Metro Hartford Alliance said that the agreement is another important step in the journey to strengthen Connecticut's fiscal health and it clearly reflects strong commitment to addressing Connecticut's pension challenges both in terms of structural reforms and full funding. And these types of actions are vital to reinforcing the private sector's confidence in Connecticut as a place to invest capital and to grow jobs.

Jim Smith, at Webster Bank, also said that he commended the Governor for reaching a sensible agreement with SEBAC, to avoid the deadly imbedded spike in the annual requirement contribution by terming out the SURS obligation and resetting the actuarial and investment returns to more prudent levels. Again, he said there is no celebration here, since the agreement actually costs more over the long term, but it is a bullet dodged in that it will enable a higher level of investment in economic development and infrastructure projects than would have been possible. And the agreement also creates funding stability and greater certainty, which are two important principles in the quest for fiscal sustainability that builds business confidence.

And Larry McHugh, of the Middlesex Chamber, said that he commends the agreement also, which because in it the state pursues a more realistic assumed rate of investment, which will allow for a less risky investment policy moving forward. And while there is more work to be done, it is a step in the right direction.

So, these are all endorsements of this agreement. A more predictable state budget said, Mr. McHugh, and a more manageable pension cost will be very important in the coming years, as we collectively deal with the multiple challenges that we, that we face.

So, it is an incremental step toward dealing with our long-term pension obligations. It has been said and one of the criticisms I know that's been offered by those who oppose the agreement, they are saying that this agreement does not really address benefit design and shouldn't any agreement address both issues. But I think it's important to recognize that while these are fair questions, it's important to recognize that while the agreement does not address benefit design, it still does address a problem that would exist even if we did not have a pension plan at all for current or future employees, that if the state had to eliminate its pension system all together, the state would still owe these billions in unfunded pension costs for prior liabilities and prior years that had been built up unaddressed for so long.

So, I think that a fair response to that question about benefit design is, why oppose this agreement, when a separate conversation can and will be had about benefit design as we move forward in this session looking at the problems that we face for the upcoming biennial budget. And also, I think to recognize that the rejection of this agreement, of course would also fail to address benefit design, while also eliminating any chance for a pension agreement reform.

So, I would urge this body to accept this agreement today and to again not oversell it, but to recognize that it is an important contribution toward dealing with the otherwise completely crushing, spiking obligation we would be faced with some years from now, putting some caps on liability in the years leading to that but still, of course, leaving us with the challenge of further changes to rein in costs as we go forward. But this, I think this has been stated by so many, an important step in contribution to that process. No one is representing that it is a complete solution to that process.

So, Madam President, I urge adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Thanks, Senator. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not, Mr. Clerk, I call for a Roll Call vote and the machine will be opened.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

All members have voted. All members have voted. The machine will be closed. Mr. Clerk, can you call the tally.

CLERK:

Senate Resolution No. 7.

Total Number of Voting 34

Those Voting Yea 17

Those Voting Nay 17

Absent and Not Voting 0

THE CHAIR:

At this time there is a tie vote. I want to thank you, Senator Fasano. Why don't you stand, sir.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

I am approaching for a point of order.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

It is my understanding that in a tie, for this to be defeated, there would have to be a majority vote to defeat it. It's my understanding based upon the tie this would be an approved resolution because you would need a majority to defeat it. I believe that's my understanding, and if that is accurate, there would be no need for Lieutenant Governor to vote on this matter.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease at this time. The Senate will come back to order, please. Senator Fasano, thank you very, very much for your question. But as the Statute is being read, it says, “The General Assembly may approve any such agreement as a whole by a majority vote of each House or may reject such of any of those awards. ” So, at this time it is in my opinion that I do have to vote so that there is a majority to pass this resolution. Thank you very, very much. And at this time I want to thank you for the debate and I will be voting yea. Mr. Clerk, will you please call.

CLERK:

Senate Resolution No. 7.

Total Number of Voting 35

Those Voting Yea 18

Those Voting Nay 17

Absent and Not Voting 0

THE CHAIR:

The resolution is adopted. [Gavel] Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, there are a number of executive and legislative nominations coming from the House of Representatives that has not made its way up here yet at the moment, and I know that members are just aching to debate those nominations and resolutions, but I will be the unpopular guy and say that we will just hold off until next week, and not sit here for hours waiting for the House to do their business. Sorry, Senator Fasano, I know you wanted to debate everybody here. Mr. Doolittle, in particular, so --

THE CHAIR:

Senator --

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Yes, ma'am.

THE CHAIR:

No, I'm sorry.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

So, thank you Madam President, and so before we adjourn, I will allow anybody to --

THE CHAIR:

Excuse me, sir, we have a Consent Calendar in front of us.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Oh, we do. Yes, we do.

THE CHAIR:

Yes, we do.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

So, why don't we have the Consent Calendar and then I will --

THE CHAIR:

Great idea, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

-- and then I will yield to members for points of personal privilege.

THE CHAIR:

Good idea. Mr. Clerk, will you please call the Consent Calendar and then you can open the machine.

CLERK:

On the first Consent Calendar for today, on page 1, Calendar 28, Senate Resolution No. 9, page 2, Calendar 29, Senate Resolution No. 10, page 2, Calendar 30, Senate Resolution No. 11.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk will you call for a Roll Call vote on the Consent Calendar. The machine is open.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

Immediate Roll Call on Consent Calendar for today has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg, please don't leave the Chamber. Vote. Thank you, I just didn't know. I didn't want you to leave, that's all. Senator Linares, do you want to vote, please, on the Consent Calendar. Thank you. All members have voted. If all members have voted, the machine will be closed. Mr. Clerk, will you please call the tally.

CLERK:

On today's Consent Calendar.

Total Number of Voting 34

Those Voting Yea 34

Those Voting Nay 0

Absent and Not Voting 0

THE CHAIR:

Consent Calendar passes. Are there any points of personal privilege? Senator Osten.

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. Madam President, I would just like to make an announcement that all subcommittee chairmen in the Appropriations Committee will be meeting immediately in Room 317, 317. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Are there any other points of personal privilege? Senator Martin.

SENATOR MARTIN (31ST):

Thank you, Madam President. I'd just like the Chamber to give a big shout out to the Bristol Girl Scouts from St. Anthony's Church in Bristol.

THE CHAIR:

Hi, Bristol Girl Scouts. There we go. [Applause]

Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Thank you, Madam President. For the purpose of an announcement, there will be an immediate Senate Republican Caucus in the Caucus Room.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, sir. Senator Flexer. Hold on for Senator Flexer.

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I rise for a point of personal privilege.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, ma'am.

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, those of us that are lucky enough to serve in this circle, each have our own individual legislative aide who works with us hand-in-hand to serve our constituents in our respective districts, and today is my legislative aide's birthday, Andrew Elash, I know he's hiding behind the walls of the Chamber, unfortunately, but I did want to just ask the Chamber to wish him --

THE CHAIR:

There he is. There is he.

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

-- a happy birthday.

THE CHAIR:

Happy birthday. [Applause]

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

And to just say I know that every Senator probably feels this way about the aide they are lucky enough to work with, but my constituents are so well served by having Andrew working in our office. He does such an amazing job. He cares deeply about the people who contact us with their problems or with their opinions on the issues we're debating here, and I'm so grateful that we get to work with him and I wish him the very happiest birthday. So, thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Happy birthday, Andrew. Are there any other points of personal privilege? If not, Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I also would like to announce a Democratic Caucus immediately following our adjournment today.

THE CHAIR:

So noted.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

And, if there is no other business, I would ask that we adjourn, subject to the call of the Chair.

THE CHAIR:

We are now adjourned. [Gavel]

(On the motion of Senator Duff of the 25th, the Senate at 4: 15 p. m. adjourned Sine Die. )

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