Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy called on Democratic leaders to show some restraint in passing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget before he secures $2 billion in labor concessions.
The $40.2 billion two-year budget Democratic leaders passed through the two budget writing committees last week assumed Malloy would be successful in getting the $2 billion in labor concessions he needs to balance the budget.
“Democrats don’t have a budget, they have a $2 billion problem and they must fix it before asking taxpayers to foot the bill,” Healy said Monday. “The most important job is to correctly and honestly provide a document that adds up and this budget doesn’t come close.”
“Obviously I continue to be very happy, as the lieutenant governor is, with the votes of the two committees last week now we’ve got to get back to work and move this thing as rapidly as we can,” Malloy said Monday at a press conference. “I want a vote as soon as we can get it.”
The legislature will be in session on Wednesday, but some key details regarding the municipal aid formulas and sales tax still need to be ironed out. The House Democratic caucus is expected to caucus the budget on Wednesday and a vote could come as early as the end of the week according to some Capitol sources.
The earliest layoff notices for state employees would have to go out would be around May 6 or 8th . Labor talks continued Monday, even though they took a break over the holiday weekend.
“I said on Feb. 16 adopt this budget and blame me,” Malloy said Monday. “We’ve gotta get going. If it falls upon me to institute those reductions then I’m prepared to do that.”
Malloy said he was willing to work on finding $2 billion in spending cuts with legislative leadership if he doesn’t get the concessions he needs in order to balance the budget. Part of the budget package the Appropriations Committee passed last week gives Malloy’s Budget Director Ben Barnes the power to reduce the budget by $1 billion, the amount of concessions his administration needs to get in the first year.
“Legislators are elected for one purpose to compose and vote on a budget not give it to an unelected bureaucrat,” said Healy. “What are they afraid of – doing their jobs?”
Malloy said Barnes is one of his appointees but he’s more than happy to work on the spending cuts with legislative leadership if there’s disagreement on where those cuts should be made.
The compromise package passed last week also includes the Amazon tax, which requires Internet retailers to collect sales tax on items sold. The fiscal note says it could raise up to $9.4 million in each year of the budget and Malloy’s administration was initially neutral on the legislation.
“I think the Amazon tax is an important stake in the ground,” Malloy told reporters Monday. “We need to have an actual conversation, and I’m happy to participate in that, about changing our policies with respect to sales tax.”
What lead him to change his mind?
“I’ve had a series of discussions that would lead me to believe we are going to see a much more robust national discussion,” Malloy said.
The Amazon tax was supported by the co-chairwomen of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, but testimony on the issue was divided. Some retailers in Connecticut claimed Amazon would stop doing business with them and force them to either go out of business or move to another state, while other brick and mortar stores complained they already lose business to the Internet retail giant and the tax will level the playing field.
Asked if there is any room for changes in the tax package or if the deal on the tax side is complete, Malloy said, “It ain’t over until it’s over, but it’s pretty over.’’