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Week in CT news: A 'first swing' at the budget; medical aid in dying bill stalls again

During Governor Ned Lamont's “State of the State” address after being sworn in for his second term urged lawmakers to pass tax cuts for the middle class and said Connecticut’s days of fiscal crisis are over.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
During Gov. Ned Lamont's State of the State address after being sworn in for his second term, he urged lawmakers to pass tax cuts for the middle class and said Connecticut’s days of fiscal crisis are over.

Local committees release budget, tax proposals

Two months after Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration released a two-year budget proposal and plans to cut taxes in Connecticut, lawmakers are taking their hacks.

On Tuesday, the state Appropriations Committee revealed a budget for the next two fiscal years that increases spending by some $375 million.

“We are presenting you with a product that I think keeps us in line with the spending cap and the requirements we have relative to budget constraints,” State Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) said at an Appropriations Committee meeting Tuesday.

Lamont said Tuesday in response that he was appreciative of that team’s efforts to mind fiscal guardrails put in place to make sure the state continues to save up for long-term unfunded obligations.

But in response to one tax-cutting proposal out of the state Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, the governor cautioned some lawmakers in Finance not to “play games.”

Medical aid in dying stalls in 15th try since ‘95

State Rep. Steve Stafstrom (D-Bridgeport) and other lawmakers from the state Judiciary Committee revealed Thursday that there wasn’t enough support to move forward on legislation that would give terminally ill patients a choice to end their lives.

Stafstrom said in a committee meeting Wednesday that the threat of litigation contributed to a lack of favorable votes on medical aid in dying legislation.

“I still struggle very mightily with this bill,” Stafstrom said Wednesday. “But I think I struggled less with it earlier in the session before we saw legislative efforts and litigation efforts in other states to undo many of the protections we’ve tried to put into this bill for Connecticut residents and with those questions still percolating through the court and with our neighboring states having not taken up this type of legislation … I think there are still some outstanding issues and we are right to be cautious on it.”

According to Connecticut Public’s Sujata Srinivasan, lawmakers sought to get medical aid in dying through the legislature this session by recommending the age limit rise to 21, that prospective recipients receive further permission from medical professionals, and the tightening of eligibility requirements for individuals coming to Connecticut from others states to get the procedures.

Commutations indefinitely suspended in Connecticut

A week after announcing the chairperson of the Connecticut Board of Paroles and Pardons had been replaced, the governor’s office said Thursday that it was pausing commutations in the state.

Carleton Giles remains on the board; in his place as chairperson is Jennifer Zaccagnini. The governor’s office says board leadership made the decision to halt the sentence reduction process.

Adam Joseph, a spokesperson for Lamont, said the decision to pause commutations was made in a meeting Wednesday that was organized by Lamont’s office.

“During the meeting, the leadership of the board informed participants that it has paused the commutation process pending an expeditious review of its policies and processes,” Joseph said Thursday.

This decision follows an uproar over a rise in commutations granted year-over-year from 2021 to 2022.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.
John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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