For the past few weeks the legislature’s Democratic majority and Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell have been trading barbs over the state budget, while the legislature’s Republican minority has remained fairly silent.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said Friday that he can’t comment on substance because there isn’t any. He said in order for that to happen the Democratic majority needs to unveil a list of their additional spending cuts.
But Democrats remained coy Friday.
Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said the General Assembly’s Democratic majority was briefed on details of a budget that leaders hope to call for a vote sometime next week.
But it’s unclear yet if Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell would sign it.
Democrats and Rell continue to be at odds over whether the state’s $8.7 billion deficit for the next two fiscal years should be filled with spending cuts and borrowing or a combination of spending cuts, borrowing and increased taxes.
Democratic lawmakers said their new proposal, which they refused to detail, includes an additional $1.1 billion in spending cuts, restores the $500 property tax credit for homeowners making $100,000 a year, and scales back their original proposal to increase corporation taxes by 30 percent. Also the cigarette tax is expected to increase, but how much was still unclear.
“Frankly, I don’t think they know what they’re doing,” Cafero said.
Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, said it has taken lawmakers awhile to reconcile Rell’s second budget released in late May with the first one released in February and the Democratic budget released in April.
Republican lawmakers say their budget does not include Rell’s cuts, which have Democratic lawmakers upset, and it does not include tax increases. From state libraries to charter schools, Republicans claim they presented a balanced budget which does not increase taxes over the next two years.
Geragosian said the Republican budget is still about $600 million out of balance because it closes a $8.1 billion deficit, not the $8.7 billion deficit estimated by the Office of Fiscal Analysis.
Republicans say their plan cuts $1 billion more than that of the Democrats by rolling spending levels back to 2007.
“We as a state always have an obligation, an obligation to those who can’t care for themselves, those who need a helping hand, those who are the most needy of our citizenry while still maintaining services to everyone else,” Cafero said on April 16 when the proposal was initially released.
He said life wasn’t so bad back in 2007.
“Was it a bad life? Did we as a state ignore the needs of our neediest citizens? No. In fact, in 2007 like today, we are proud to say that Connecticut is one of the most compassionate, generous, fair states to the neediest of our citizens and we will continue to be so,” Cafero has said.
When asked what it will take to get budget negotiations going again, Cafero said, “the public.”
The public is fuming mad and legislators are hearing about it, Cafero said.