(Updated 5:53 p.m.) Arguments in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state budget signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy won’t be heard until June 24, well after the General Assembly’s June 8 adjournment date, but before the start of the new fiscal year.
Tom Scott, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said he can’t be too concerned with the timing of the argument and needs to stay focused on the argument itself. Lawyers for the state declined comment on the lawsuit as they exited Hartford Superior Court Wednesday.
“Our argument, among others, is that the judicial process cannot be used to resolve the plaintiffs’ budget and political policy concerns, which are matters properly reserved under our state constitution to the legislature and Governor,” Assistant Attorney General Perry Zinn-Rowthorn, said in an emailed statement. He said the state will be filing a motion to dismiss June 1.
The lawsuit claims the state budget for fiscal years 2012-2013 signed by Malloy May 4 is unconstitutional because its revenues don’t match its expenditures. Most of the gap they are referring to comes from the $2 billion placeholder the state saved for union concessions.
The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition leadership agreed to $1.6 billion in concessions, but that portion still needs to be ratified by 45,000 rank-and-file members. The vote to finalized that agreement could take weeks. Then Malloy will have to come up with $400 million in spending cuts by May 31 in order to balance the budget which starts July 1. Malloy’s Budget Director Ben Barnes said Tuesday that he’s working on those spending cuts, but doesn’t have any information to share on where those cuts will be made.
Scott said June 24 is before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year and “we can’t be held hostage to what other parties may do.”
At a closed-door status conference at Hartford Superior Court, lawyers for the Roger Sherman Liberty Center and lawyers for the state worked out a scheduling agreement, which has the state submitting its motion to dismiss June 1 and the plaintiffs replying by June 15. Oral arguments won’t be heard until June 24 and some suspect the budget will be finalized by that point.
However, Scott said the budget and the union concession deal aren’t his focus and are out of his control. He said he’s focused on making sure the state adopts a constitutional budget.
Scott promised to focus on what the constitution says: “The amount of general budget expenditures authorized for any fiscal year shall not exceed the estimated amount of revenue for such a fiscal year.”
The plaintiffs, who are represented by attorney Martha Dean, filed an amended complaint Tuesday.