Wednesday, May 3, 2017

State Budget Labor Savings Must Exceed $2 Billion

Connecticut’s state budget is in dire straits. As we negotiate a two-year spending plan an overwhelming $5 billion deficit is threatening all state services. Unfortunately, this fiscal environment was predicted by me and my fellow Republican legislators over the past six years.

Governor Malloy’s budget proposal includes $1.567 billion in anticipated savings from negotiations with state employee unions. Twelve collective bargaining agreements are under negotiations now with the Governor. These new contracts will have long-term impacts on Connecticut taxpayers long after Governor Malloy leaves office in January 2019.

Given the bad news delivered by our state tax collector that the Top 100 taxpayers’ income dropped a whopping 45% last year, Governor Malloy should be seeking even greater savings from state employee union negotiations. Calculating the increased budget deficit projected since the Governor released his budget proposal requires an additional $664 million in labor savings.

Governor Malloy should be seeking $2.231 billion in labor savings during his twelve labor contracts negotiations. Connecticut taxpayers will vote with their feet if these negotiations fall short.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why Question a Supreme Court Justice?

The recent editorial in The Connecticut Law Tribune regarding the role of the legislature in reviewing the reappointment of Justice Richard Palmer not only missed the mark of our state’s constitutional history and procedure, it actually contradicted itself in trying to argue for judicial independence and a rubber stamp approval of a justice.

Unlike the federal court system, where judges serve for life, our Constitution provides that justices are appointed to 8-year terms. Reappointment requires a legislative hearing and approval. The editorial seemed to indicate that any questioning of a justice was an improper violation of the separation of powers. I would argue that a lack of questioning would be an abdication of the legislature’s constitutional “check”, our duty to consider and approve a justice. Is the Judiciary the only branch of government worthy of protection in the editorial board’s eyes?

The editorial also decried any opposition to “judicial activism”, which it defined as “merely an indelicate euphemism for, ‘a position I disagree with.’" This is a petulant attempt at dismissing a theory and belief that a judge’s opinions should be based upon the law, not upon political or personal considerations, that the making of policy is a legislative function, not a judicial one. At least one justice recognized that, writing at the time of reappointment in 1999, “I do not believe judges are free to substitute their own views for those of the Constitutional framers or the legislature”. That justice was Richard Palmer. Why is it improper to now question him about substituting his views for those of the general assembly?

In his decision in Santiago II, Palmer ignored voluminous, unprecedented legislative intent to repeal the death penalty prospectively, arguably “substituting” his views for those of the lawmakers. The Chief State’s Attorney’s “Motion for Argument” states the opinion, “addresses issues, undertakes analysis and relies on materials that were never raised or presented by the defendant, and never subjected to any adversarial inquiry.” It also bases much of the decision on a shift in the “contemporary standards of decency.”

As stated in the editorial, "In his comments to the Program Review and Investigations Committee of our state Legislature, Judge Robert C. Leuba, then-chief court administrator, said, in October 2000, ‘judicial independence is critical to the functioning of any democracy,’ because it is the ‘duty of a judge to decide each case according to an objective evaluation and application of the law, without the influence of outside factors.’’ Palmer’s decision arguably involved the consideration of matters never raised by the defendant, as well as the nebulous “shift in standards of decency”. These were arguably “other factors” besides the law that were considered in the decision, but according to the editorial, should not be questioned. That is simply wrong.

Judicial activism should be shocking and abhorrent to all lawyers, legislators and citizens.

As to the fact that a majority had signed on to Palmer’s decision in LaPointe, and seemingly agreed to his harshly worded footnote, is not an excuse for Palmer. No other justice who signed onto the footnote was up for reappointment – only the author. In the interest of retaining civility at our state’s highest court, any justice who authors or agrees with such contemptuous writings should expect to be questioned about it at their time of reconfirmation.

The editorial continued, “It would be perfectly acceptable for legislators to vote against the confirmation of a judge whose lack of judicial temperament, ill manner and disregard for the rule of law have been well documented.” Judicial temperament and manners do not just extend to those appearing before a jurist. It is incumbent on the relationship with colleagues as well, and the recent writings of Justice Palmer raise legitimate questions as to his relationship with fellow justices.

The Law Tribune chooses to ignore the constitutional role of the legislature in the reappointment of justices and chooses to ignore serious issues raised by Justice Palmer’s decisions. They should not attack the General Assembly for choosing not to ignore their duty in such serious matters.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Reality for Our State Budget

I am pleased to support a Republican budget proposed today that closes the 2017 deficit of $935.7 million and creates a five-year framework that puts state government back on track.

Our proposal restores funding for social services, education and hospitals while providing municipalities with mandate relief. We refuse to force local property tax payers to shoulder the burden of the state budget mismanagement.

Since my arrival at the State Capitol in 2009 I've witnessed a dysfunctional state budget process that ignored future projections. Economists warned state officials the Connecticut economy was underperforming and business leaders warned us other states were far more responsible with their fiscal decisions.

Each year majority Democrat legislative leaders did a victory lap after passing a budget with no minority Republican support. I objected because none of these budgets were given proper public hearings. The budget bill often showed up on my desk two hours before Senate debate and voting began. Six-hundred pages describing over $20 billion in taxpayer spending that I must study and consider in two hours. A totally bizarre process!

Following two of the largest tax increases in state history we find the state budget over a billion dollars in the red this year. Expert projections show our next biennium budget deficit far exceeds four billion dollars.

Today Senate and House Republicans introduced a long term plan with meaningful structural budgetary changes. These tough decisions impact all of state government because we can't ignore the fiscal tsunami facing us next year.

Republican Budget Proposal details:

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Nasty Political Wedge in Connecticut

Tonight in the Judiciary Committee we are debating a hodgepodge bill. Legislation that addresses victims of human sex trafficking and has nearly unanimous support of committee members has been hijacked by majority Democrats to make a political statement using a big wedge.

Why? Politics at its worst.

Later tonight the Judiciary Committee is debating HB5054 – An Act Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence from Governor Malloy. All of the language in this bill was dumped into HB5623 – An Act Concerning Violence Against Women and Victims of Human Trafficking. So we get to debate the same bill twice – all so majority Democrats can claim Republicans don’t respect women.

That’s politics at its worst.

Here’s the real story – Republicans on the Judiciary Committee oppose the temporary restraining order process proposed by Democrats. Why? The proposal has a dangerous lack of due process.

Connecticut currently has an effective process to remove firearms from a potential domestic violence perpetrator. A risk warrant process protects due process, requires an investigation and a hearing before a judge. The risk warrant is an effective way to protect victims of domestic violence. The proposed temporary restraining order process fails to protect due process.

So good legislation addressing victims of human sex trafficking gets a no vote because flawed legislation gets tacked on and voted on twice.

Hodgepodge. Politics at its worst!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Will the Transportation Lockbox Be Broken Open?

A transportation lockbox? Sounds like a good idea. Republicans at the Connecticut State Capitol have proposed this idea for many years without success. Now seems the time for a bit of common sense.

A resolution before the State Senate today requires voters to approve a constitutional amendment for the transportation lockbox on Election Day 2016. I predict it will meet overwhelming approval of Connecticut voters.

Here’s the problem – in 1992 over 80% of voters approved a constitutional spending cap but the Connecticut General Assembly has failed to fully implement the cap. Twenty-three years after voters changed the State Constitution legislators have not delivered a solid spending cap they demanded.

Will the new transportation lockbox be broken open by the same inaction of the Connecticut Legislature? Why do we make promises to voters and promptly drop the ball when it comes time to deliver on those promises?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Connecticut Senate's Nuclear Explosion

Connecticut Senate Democrats hit the nuclear option in the State Senate tonight when they stopped Republican debate on their train wreck state budget. This is the worst of politics in Connecticut.

The State Senate did not begin debate on the budget document until after 5:30 pm. The second largest tax increase in the history of Connecticut and debate limited to less than six hours.

Why? The deadline for the Connecticut General Assembly to complete business in the 2015 legislative session is Midnight. Imagine that? Hold the budget to the last six hours of a legislative session that began on January 7th. Five months to get the work done and Senate Republicans were given six hours to debate spending $40 billion.

Vote Republican, Connecticut voters!

Monday, May 25, 2015

I Believe - A Veteran's Memorial Day

Colonel Albert D. Audette, Jr., U.S.A.F. (Retired)
Keynote Address – Memorial Day 2015
Danbury, Connecticut

Honored and Heroic Heroes, Men and Women of our Armed Forces and you, their Families, Mayor Boughton and Honored Guests, Americans,

Thank you for the great honor you do me by your invitation to be with you this Memorial Day. I am doubly honored when I return home to Danbury because – I carry with me, the Keys to the City of Danbury – a most memorable gift, given me some ten years ago by His Honor, Mayor Boughton.

On this, the beginning of my 83rd year – not only can I say that I am a veteran of two wars, I can say unequivocally that I believe in America.

I look around and see Americans! I see families waiting to become Americans… I see men, women and children here today who believe in America.

How very proud I am to be a veteran. How proud I am to call myself a patriot. There is a big difference between American service members and those of other nations.

I’ve travelled the world as a soldier-fighter pilot. I’ve personally trained fighter pilots from most every country… but there’s no one like an American.

I’ve figured out why. When Americans walk abroad, they can be picked out of any crowd! How? Because they walk as they do at home – free, without fear, and noble in that knowledge.

Because of our heritage, our soldiers, sailors and airmen measure a different depth of bravery, a more spirited depth of courage.

We do NOT fear to die for your country; rather, we fear that we will NOT bring honor to our country.

We serve because it is our DUTY and NOT because of gain.

This is why we call American fighting men and women heroes. Each is of Faith on one hand, and works on the other.

Our Founders were also men, women and families of Faith – and with that same difference.

As Saint James wrote. “Thus faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

The Faith of our Fathers resulted in their works: the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.

This great and mighty nation was founded on the notion that we are a free people with the right to pursue happiness and our individual dreams.

With the right to believe in our dream of liberty!

I believe in this Danbury land upon which we stand this moment – the only land in the entire universe that is, and always will be, a solid bastion of FREE PEOPLE.

I believe in our sweet, true and trusted values – where faith, goodness and courage are always fresh and made to flourish.

Because I believe in the innocence and naivet̩ of happiness РI believe these virtues find their homeland in America!

Since the Revolution, American men and women have given their hearts and lives for the freedoms and beliefs we hold as our own.

These warriors of Faith are buried honorably in our national and state cemeteries, many are buried at sea – where they fell.

And, the Lord forgive us, thousands are buried abroad in foreign countries – these, I say, bring them all home! Bring our fallen heroes home.

Today we honor them as they rest, their sacred work finished.

Within our soil lay the bones of many unknown heroes, whose bravery, courage, and patriotism they placed above their own… rest in peace and thank you, blessed brothers and sisters.

Some will say that we lost two wars. We soldiers have NOT…. I was in the Tet Offensive… history books say that we lost the Tet Offensive.

At dinner a few years ago a high school senior asked me to look at his term paper: The title was “How the U.S. Lost the Tet Offensive.” Though I went into the internet archives to prove that we had not – he replied that he had to repeat what was written in his history book!

We did not loose the Tet Offensive, son, I said, “I was there.”

Some will say we lost Fallujah… We soldiers will say we did not.

Our Fathers and Mothers have given us this soil, to guard and make prosper. I believe that our youth will one day provide even more!

I believe in our children, for we bequeath to them our Faith and our trust… everything to them, so that tomorrow, they will believe even greater things than we can.

I believe that freedom is the handmaid of Columbia, the woman whose statue stands aloft our Nation’s Capitol dome… through her gateway… anyone can climb to the greatest heights; for America is the fertile soil of curiosity.

I believe in our Republic, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights.

We are NOT a democracy… WE ARE A REPUBLIC! And I believe in all this!

I believe that no person has the right to restrain our freedom, to make us a nation we are not, or to prevent us from speaking our peace. Our Constitution, our Flag, and our United States of America are one entity – both under man and under God…

And shame the American who betrays either – but let him speak in peace.

As a soldier, I say, there is unfinished work to be done.

Today other enemies threaten us – and you know who and what they are – irrational terrorists who would fly their black flag above our nation.

Why have we lost what we had already gained?

Only true Americans believe – take a deep breath and BREATHE in America’s sweet Spirit – as you take another breath… feel, all the way through… to your very bones and heart… the Spirit of all Americans around the word and you who are with us today… and as far back to where our history began.

In 1892, an American who believed in that spirit, and in all we live for; wrote an American Pledge. Together, let’s say:

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.

Thank you dear family and God Bless our Heroes!


Colonel Albert D. Audette, Jr. is a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Father Audette enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1950 and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force in 1953. He served as a flight instructor, fighter pilot and as a staff officer in many major commands. In addition to serving as a combat pilot he served at Headquarters of the U.S. Air Force, was the Air Defense Attache with the State Department and served as the director of intelligence for the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Audette retired in 1980 at the rank of colonel.

Colonel Audette earned numerous air combat medals, a Portuguese Cross with Military Merit and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star.

In 1989, soon after the death of his beloved wife, Father Audette entered the seminary and was ordained in 1993. He served in several parishes in Danbury, Bethel and Brookfield prior to his mandatory retirement and now is a resident priest at the Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist in Stamford, Connecticut.

Father Audette’s “retirement” days remain very busy helping at the Basilica in addition to his newest focus as the founder of the Roman Catholic Center for Mental Health and Spiritual Development whose mission is to provide positive psychiatric care and mental health services to individuals and families unable to afford these services.

Father Al has four children, fourteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.