Responding to Republican criticism, Democratic lawmakers defended their budget Friday afternoon saying it was the only “balanced” and “honest” proposal on the table.
Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said it was a serious budget, which deals with a serious issue: mainly the state’s $8.7 billion budget deficit.
The Democratic budget proposal passed by the two budget writing committees Thursday seeks about $3.25 billion in tax increases, cuts about $2.4 billion in spending, and closes the rest of the gap through borrowing.
Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, issued a challenge to the budget critics saying that if someone has a better proposal then they should bring it forward so it can be part of the discussion. He called Rell’s budget misleading saying it falls $2.8 billion short of the true deficit.
Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said spending cuts alone would not have been responsible. He said education funding and college campuses would have to closed in order to close the budget deficit if no new revenue was sought.
“The way you create meaning is to be responsible and make hard choices even though you know those choices will be opposed,” Looney said. “We are, to this point, the only ones dealing with reality and dealing with the hard facts that are before us.”
While Rell’s budget only asked for sacrifices to be made by certain segments of the population, Democrats said Friday that their budget asks for everyone to sacrifice including the wealthy and businesses.
On Thursday Rell called some of the Democratic spending cuts phony because many of them are placeholders for savings Democratic lawmakers expect to find at a later date.
On Friday Williams said out of an $38 billion budget they should “at least be able to find $50 million in savings.”
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said Democratic lawmakers seem to be doing a lot of scrambling “because folks out there are ticked off.”
“This is not our best work and they know it,” Cafero said.
Michael Cicchetti, deputy undersecretary at the Office of Policy and Management, said once again Democrats have taken the only play they know out of their playbooks: raise taxes. As far as their cuts are concerned, he said none of them reduce the size of government.
Rell’s spokesman Chris Cooper said the governor thinks “if they believe in that budget, then they should vote on it.”
On Thursday Rell said that if the legislature voted on the Democratic budget proposal, as is, she would veto it.
Williams said it’s not their intention to override a gubernatorial veto. He said its their intention to sit down and negotiate with the governor.
But it’s unclear following the past 48 hours of rhetoric how those negotiations may go.
The Democrats have a previously scheduled leadership meeting with Rell next Wednesday.