(Updated 3:30 p.m.) “I will veto the revenue bill which contains about $60 million in fees over the next two years,” Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Friday morning after the state Bond Commission meeting.
“The public is paying close attention right now and they’re saying ‘Enough already’,” Rell said.
After a passing a budget less than a month ago with an estimated $1.25 billion in taxes and fees Rell said she would not accept the fee increase passed during a marathon session by the General Assembly. Instead, she has instructed her budget office to look for more spending cuts.
The legislature’s Democratic majority had argued the fee increases, the bulk of which would increase Department of Motor Vehicle licenses and fees, were necessary in order to fund a last-minute budget amendment requested by Rell’s administration.
“I would just like to remind the chamber that we’re here raising additional revenue because of additional amendments passed on Aug. 31,” Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, said Thursday.
Daily was referring to the final controversial amendment, which Rell had sought to veto portions of but was unable to once she allowed it to go into effect without her signature.
Rell and the legislature’s Democratic majority have been fighting for weeks over whose amendment it was that added $26 million to the $37.6 billion two-year budget. Rell said Friday that the additional revenue Democrats sought to raise was necessary to pay for the salary increases that the legislature allowed to go into effect for the Correctional Officers union. The Correctional Officers union was the only union to receive salary increases this year.
Democratic lawmakers said the fee increase was also necessary to keep rail and bus fares from going up. Rell said her administration would try their best to avoid rail and bus fare increases.
While the Democrats hold the majority in both the House and the Senate, it doesn’t look like they will have the votes to override a gubernatorial veto. The Senate voted 23 to 12. Sen. Joan Hartley, a conservative Democrat from Waterbury joined the Republicans in voting against the bill. The Senate would need 24 votes to override the veto. The House voted 106 to 34 and would need 101 votes to override a veto.
“I am disappointed Governor Rell has decided to veto what is in reality her own proposal,” Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said in a statement. “Connecticut needs the governor’s leadership, not these bizarre rejections of her own ideas.”
Donovan is expected to elaborate on his feelings later this afternoon.
“This veto is the latest example of the disarray and confusion that is currently running rampant in the Rell administration,” Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said in an emailed statement. “One hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.”
Rell did say she will sign the conveyance bill, probate bill, and bonding bill, which received final passage from the Senate Thursday.