The Special Session

Summer is for play. And for reading long novels.

Really long. Such as “Anna Karenina” or “Gone With the Wind.” But in recent years I have instead devoted myself to non-fiction. For example, reading the Connecticut General Assembly’s “Implementer” bills. In addition to dealing with matters relating to the State budget, these make tweaks to statutes and provide new life to ideas that had previously failed to make it to the floor of the legislature.

In case you didn’t know of it, let me be the first to tell you about the Payroll Commission. A bill that would create this Commission had a public hearing in April, but did not get out of Finance Revenue & Bonding. It eventually appeared in the 567 page 2019 Implementer bill, attached at the very end.

The Payroll Commission came alive with passage of the Implementer bill in early June. Co-Chairs. are the F.R. & B. leaders, with their Ranking Members, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, and the Commissioner of Revenue Services also serving as members.

I recently watched online as the Commission held its first meeting. The main presentation was offered by the Connecticut School Finance Project, which may very well have contributed language to the original bill, S.B. 1143. This was an 82-line “proposed bill,” that being very long for such an item.

The Commission’s mission, basically, is to study and make recommendations on the possibility of replacing part of the State income tax with a payroll tax. The payroll tax would be paid by employers, who at their discretion could reduce salaries commensurately. The reduction in salary would hopefully be compensated for by reductions in employee income tax liability.

So the Payroll Commission has some reading and studying to do during the summer. They plan to hold Public Hearings once they have become comfortable with the concept of a payroll tax. They must submit recommendations by January 2020.

Meanwhile this year’s regular legislative session ended on schedule, on June 5th. But work goes on in Hartford. The Legislature opened a Special Session on July 22nd, immediately following a “Veto Session.”

The Special Session mainly involved action on a limited selection of school construction grants. It was adjourned “sine die,” meaning that it may be reconvened whenever.

What topics may come up when the legislators do come back?

Gambling? There is a new roll of the dice, to use an expression, now being proposed as a statewide approach to “entertainment.”

Tolls? The Governor is lately pitching the idea of tolls only on bridges. Perhaps tomorrow, though, it will be back to his original idea, trucks-only tolling.

Meanwhile, the task force on regional efficiencies is planning to meet, and apparently will only consider ideas for regionalization of services that are voluntary.

Which brings me back to the long novels, and their endings.

The protagonist in “Anna Karenina,” a novel extending over a mere 864 pages, eventually throws herself under a moving train. When I was half-way through this tome during my youth, my cousin asked “did you get to the part where she threw herself under a train.” As far as I can recall I was sufficiently discouraged by that revelation that I never made it to the end.

“Gone With The Wind,” comprising more than 1000 pages, ends with the line “after all, tomorrow is another day.” Sounds like Scarlett O’Hara might have gone into politics eventually!

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