House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, and Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, held a joint news conference today (Wednesday) to report on a meeting they had yesterday with Gov. Jim Douglas. Reporters are always curious about those closed door meetings.
The pair of legislative leaders said the talks went well. Shumlin said he and Smith made four points.
- that they wanted to work with the administration to develop the best possible list of projects on which to spend federal stimulus dollars.
- that they wanted to cooperate in considering ideas that could generate new jobs.
- that they would evaluate any idea the administration has to improve the way the state pays for schools.
When Shumlin got to the fourth point, he indicated he issued Douglas a warning.
- that they didn't want him to build some of his controversial education proposals into the budget he will present next week -- because the ideas -- such as taking teacher retirement funding from the Education Fund instead of the General Fund -- had little support.
"We are concerned about building a budget with numbers that won't fly," Smith said.
"We begged him not to do that," Shumlin added.
Smith said the mood at the meeting was good.
The mood wasn't so good after the news conference.
Dennise Casey, deputy chief of staff for Douglas, charged Smith and Shumlin with violating the terms of the talk with Douglas. It was a private meeting. That's what they asked for, she said. She suggested this was setting the tone for relations between the leaders and the administration.
Yikes. It's only the second week.
-- Nancy Remsen