On Saturday morning, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell promised to veto the Democratic budget proposal, which raises taxes and fees by $2.5 billion, and called for a Sunday meeting to see if a budget agreement can be reached before the end of the fiscal year.
“The flaws and failures of the tax and spending proposals contained in the Democrats’ budget are obvious and they are a recipe for disaster,” Rell said in a press release. “It is neither balanced nor remotely realistic in its assumed ‘savings’ and ‘spending cuts.’”
In her veto message, which she distributed at the Newington home of Phillip and Sarah Bucchi, Rell highlighted the lack of detail in the Democratic budget proposal.
“Unidentified cuts in state agency expenses of $70 million, without providing any detail as to how these cuts will be made,” Rell wrote. “Equally dubious are the ‘savings’ supposed to be achieved by the ‘Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes’ ($56 million), ‘reinvention’ ($27 million) and by nebulous ‘management reductions’ ($25 million).”
The Democratic proposal also called for raising more than $112 million in revenue from the sale of state assets, but “again, without details.” The budget also proposed to close two prisons, but failed to say which ones.
Rell and the legislature’s Democratic majority have been at an impasse on the budget since late May, shortly before the end of the legislative session. Democratic lawmakers said Rell refused to meet with them, so late this week they took matters into their own hands and passed a budget that they said represents their priorities.
Democratic leaders in the legislature were not surprised with the veto. In fact, they even anticipated Friday when they authored a letter to Rell requesting a Monday meeting.
“If your intention is to veto the legislation, we hereby request immediate, bipartisan negotiations between the Executive and Legislative branches of government,” Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and Sen. President Donald Williams wrote in this letter to Rell Friday.
“These negotiations will be most productive if we all are fully engaged as active participants,” the two top Democratic leaders wrote.
At a press conference Saturday on the roof of Hartford Hospital, Democratic leaders said they thought it was critical pass a budget before the end of the fiscal year.
“I’ve contended we’re really not that far apart,” Williams said in a phone interview Saturday following the roof top event.
He said if the legislature hadn’t passed a budget it would have given the governor the ability to cut critical programs and by passing a budget the legislature has taken some of those cuts off the table. Williams said he’s hopeful an agreement can be reached before the end of the fiscal year.
“If we can check the rhetoric and politics at the door then I believe we can get an agreement, if all parties are sincere,” Williams said.
“There is still time between now and Tuesday night at midnight to develop a budget that is responsible and affordable,” Rell said in a press release Saturday. “I have asked the legislative leaders to meet with me at the Executive Residence on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. to work on a budget that will meet the needs of our citizens and protect Connecticut’s future. We cannot wait to get to work.”
“However, I am also preparing an Executive Order to make sure that government runs smoothly in the absence of a budget on July 1,” Rell said. “The clock is ticking, but it is more important to get the budget done right than to simply get it done.”