(Updated 7:20 p.m.) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told the Manchester Chamber of Commerce Thursday that he expects the General Assembly to vote on the $40.2 billion, two year budget plan before next Tuesday.
“I hope that that budget is going to be adopted in the next few days. Hopefully, no later than Tuesday,” Malloy said. “Because then we have to get down to the brass tacks of entering into sustainable agreements with our employees so that their pay and benefits match our ability to pay and fund those obligations.”
The budget the General Assembly will vote on next week does not include the $2 billion in labor concessions Malloy has asked for from state employees.
“I take these things one at a time,” Malloy said. “Let’s have a conversation about what we do next once we get a hard and fast budget passed.”
Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said legislative leaders agreed to vote on a budget before Tuesday in private conversations with the governor.
“Right when the governor’s budget came out in February there was consensus to move it along as soon as possible,” Williams said Thursday. “People around the state are looking for us to take action.”
“We’re continuing to have conversations about the budget with members of the caucus and others, and are aiming for a budget vote early next week,” House Speaker Chris Donovan confirmed Thursday.
Lobbyists looking to make last minute changes to the $1.4 billion tax package may be out of luck.
Asked if this puts pressure on the state employee unions to agree to a concession package, Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4, said he doesn’t think so. He said if they’re able to come to an agreement, they’ll come to an agreement. If they don’t then the budget lawmakers pass next week won’t be the “real budget.”
Malloy has been preparing an alternative budget which cuts $2 billion out of the spending side of the two year plan if he fails to get the concessions he needs. Details of that budget are still unknown, however, his staff released figures to show what cutting $1 billion in municipal aid would look like earlier this month.
Republican lawmakers, who remain confident Malloy will get the concessions he needs, are fired up over the fact the vote will happen before those concessions are in hand.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said they met with officials from the administration Thursday and are still unhappy about the language in the bill which gives the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management the power to cut $1 billion in spending from several branches of government.
The draft presented is still unsatisfactory and “unconstitutional,” McKinney said.
He said he has spoken with a number of attorneys about the issue and it’s possible the Republican caucuses will be looking at legal action if the budget is passed next week without the concessions and the overreaching language which gives the executive branch the authority to cut $1 billion from the budget.
“We will go to court because it’s absolutely unconstitutional,” McKinney said.
And he pointed out the issue is bipartisan. He said Democratic lawmakers have told him in confidence that they are concerned. Some logged their concerns with their leaders Wednesday during a caucus meeting.
One Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, has been vocal about how he agrees that passing a budget with a $2 billion hole is unconstitutional.
Republicans also based their no-tax-increase budget on successful union negotiations, but McKinney said they never asked anyone to vote on it before those concessions were in hand.
Malloy said the union concessions and the language granting the executive branch the authority to cut, “shouldn’t be a hang up.”