There were hugs, cheers, and rubber bands flying through the air as the clock struck midnight Wednesday—the official end of the legislative session—but lawmakers knew their work was far from finished.
Last weekend anticipating a budget deal couldn’t be reached by June 3, they voted themselves back into a special session to tackle an estimated $9 billion budget deficit.
“We have four weeks until the end of the fiscal year,” Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said. “I’d like to have an agreement in two weeks.”
It’s been at least two days since the co-chairman of the Democratically-controlled Appropriations and Finance Committees have met with Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration over the budget.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said negotiators are putting revenue suggestions on the table and the Democrats are sitting there with their arms folded.
“There’s not a budget,” Cafero said in frustration Thursday morning. “It was a disappointing session.”
However, Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said that even in good years when the state has a surplus the legislature needs to go into special session. He said the size of the budget deficit which is related to the global economic crisis is unprecedented in the state.
“I have a full appreciation for the difficulty of the Legislature’s task,” Rell said in a statement Wednesday evening. “Crafting a budget in these perilous economic times is challenging. It requires difficult choices that are as painful as they are necessary.”
“The legislative session is now a page of Connecticut history. It is time to turn the page, to move forward with commitment and resolve to work together to deliver to the people of this state a budget that will meet their needs now and in the future,” Rell added.
The Democrats and the Republicans will each hold press conferences tomorrow to give their spin on the session.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport, held a staff meeting soon after the Senate adjourned at midnight giving more credence to the idea that he will be leaving the state Senate to challenge US Rep. Jim Himes for his Congressional seat.