Sept. 25, 2001 – The 24th Legislature continued its work on Fiscal Year 2002 budget bills Tuesday morning in a session that included a call from Majority Leader Celestino A. White Sr. for a march on Government House.
As the morning wore on and the senators still hadn't received word on the whereabouts of Gov. Charles Turnbull's health-care package for government employees, tempers in the Senate chamber began to flare.
Sen. Emmett Hansen II asked, "What is more important than health care? When does the governor plan to send down the health insurance package? Does he realize the deadline is Sunday, Sept. 30?" That's the final day of Fiscal Year 2001.
Turnbull, meanwhile, was in New York to attend the funeral of a family member.
The lawmakers have been working to get the budget into the governor's hands before the start of the new fiscal year. The Finance Committee concluded its work on the more than 20 budget bills at 2 a.m. Friday, and the Rules Committee processed them all in a Saturday session.
White decided the Senate should take the matter into its own hands. "This is a serious situation," he said. "We are within five days of the deadline. At our lunch break, the members should hold hands and walk to Government House. At this time we should show that leaders lead, and let followers follow."
White was spared his march at the eleventh hour — actually at 11:24 a.m., when the package arrived. In the accompanying letter of transmittal to Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd, the governor called the Legislature into special session on Friday to consider his bill to ratify the government's new group medical, health and dental insurance plans with Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. (CIGNA) and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.
The governor told Liburd, "The Government Health Insurance Board of Trustees has worked diligently to obtain the best health and dental insurance plans for our employees. Therefore, it is imperative that we ratify the new contracts to avoid any disruption of services to our employees."
The government's current health insurance contract expires Sept. 30. The governor provided no explanation for the late arrival of the new insurance package. Prior to its arrival, Liburd said, "This health insurance issue is uppermost in the minds of my colleagues. Not having a contract at this time is ridiculous … We have no knowledge or information as to where we are on this very important legislation."
Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, the Finance Committee chair, said the information should have arrived in time for her committee to study it. She and other senators lamented the short period of time they now have to review the contract. Hansen did commend the governor and the Health Insurance Board for their choice of companies.
Also Monday morning, the Senate passed a resolution extending condolences on behalf of all Virgin Islanders to the people of New York City and Washington, D.C. and all those who suffered losses in the attacks. Sponsored by Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and cosponsored by all his colleagues, the resolution pledges the body's "full support toward the federal government's efforts to eradicate terrorism at home and abroad."
Copies of the resolution will be presented to President George W. Bush and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, to be read into the Congressional Record.
In other action, the committee approved:
Bill No. 24-0136 – authorizing the Office of Management and Budget director to allocate $44 million from the miscellaneous section of the FY 2002 budget to cover salary increases for executive branch workers and $12 million to cover executive branch salary and health insurance premium increases.
Bill No. 24-0138 – $12.8 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to the General Fund.
The session recessed about 2 p.m., scheduled to reconvene at 3 p.m. The Legislature has had telephone problems since Monday. Liburd said the system was still being worked on Tuesday.


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