Christine Stuart photo
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero (Christine Stuart photo)

Four lawmakers quietly adjourned the longest budget battle in the state’s history Thursday afternoon.

One Republican and three Democratic lawmakers gathered in an otherwise empty House chamber for what was called a “technical session” to adjourn sine die the June and September special sessions. 

But Thursday’s technical session to terminate the legislature’s unfinished business was unusual according to those gathered for the event.

House Speaker Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, called House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, Thursday as a courtesy to let him know they would officially be adjourning the session. In what Donovan called an “unusual move,” Cafero showed up to object to the end of the September special session.

Since the legislature adjourned its September session, Cafero said:
-the governor’s budget office has announced a nearly $390 million deficit;
-the state’s unemployment trust fund went bankrupt;
-the state announced the loss of 6,600 more jobs in September, and;
-9,200 business have closed their doors.

Cafero added that the legislature should be back at the Capitol fixing those problems.

“I have grave concerns about us going sine die,” Cafero said. “To me it is imperative that we as a legislative body get together and handle this crisis.”

“We have a responsibility to prepare this state for the worst,” Cafero said referring specifically to decision by Moody’s to downgrade the state’s outlook from “stable” to “negative.”

Donovan disagreed that the legislature needs to immediately act on new information related to the state’s finances.

“There’s nothing before us right now,” Donovan said, admitting that the decision to adjourn means that he won’t be able to come back and override Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s veto of one of the last budget implementation bills.

He said it takes “two to tango” and the Senate doesn’t have the votes. Earlier this week he had held out hope the legislature would override Rell’s veto of a bill that clarifies language in the state budget.

The bill would have prevent Rell’s administration from privatizing and closing group homes for the developmentally disabled.

It would also earmark about $1.3 million over two years for a needs assessment and service contract for children of incarcerated parents, a $50,000 earmark for the Connecticut Pardon Team Inc., and a $75,000 earmark for the Connecticut Sentencing Commission. In addition it would have exempted the Judicial branch from cutting $7.8 million over the next two years.

Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, met around 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon to adjourn the special sessions in the Senate.