(Updated 5:04 p.m.) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Budget Director Ben Barnes said the unions are expected to ratify the $1.6 billion concession package in June, but “not necessarily in advance of June 8.”
The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn June 8.
“We do anticipate ratification can occur in June,” Barnes told a group of reporters at Rentschler Field Friday morning. The $40.11 billion budget signed May 4 requires the administration to submit a reconciliation package to the General Assembly by May 31, and the General Assembly is expected to act on it before it adjourns June 8.
Barnes said the package they will present will assume the ratification of the union agreement and Democratic leadership in the legislature will choose how it will act on the package, which will also include $400 million in currently undefined spending cuts.
“We are aware of the timing issues and there are several alternatives they are considering,” Barnes said.
Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said he’s not surprised that the ratification process is going to take some time.
“It would be our intention to work with the governor’s office on the package to balance the rest of the budget and if possible to include a provision to accept the concessions when ratified,” Williams said.
He declined to speculate on hypothetical scenarios, like what if the union doesn’t ratify the agreement. The new fiscal year doesn’t start until July 1, which gives them plenty of time to complete the budget.
Republican lawmakers said they’re concerned that the budget may not be balanced before the June 8 adjournment date.
“We will adjourn this session without having a balanced budget, without knowing a $2 billion hole over a two year budget,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said Friday. “That is a scary thought indeed.”
But Williams said there will be language in legislation that says the concession package will be adopted if its ratified by the union.
The legislature has often failed to pass a budget during the regular session and has often had to return to pass a budget in a special session.
“I think that we like to carry out our business and do what we’re supposed to do which is pass a budget,” Cafero said. “If we are now going to be told they may not get to it until June 8 I think that’s a real concern.”
He said he would have hoped that the Malloy administration would have made sure the unions could have an up or down vote on the concessions before May 31 so the legislature could vote on it before it adjourns.
“Is it a big deal? Have we done it before? Yeah, we have done it before, but it is sort of a big deal,“ Cafero said. “We have another big question mark, another unfilled hole, and we’re in limbo as a state.”
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney said the governor has refused to take municipal aid cuts off the table, so every day lawmakers go on wondering about the impact potential cuts may have on local property taxes.
Malloy administration officials have said it’s not wise to take anything off the table.
While Malloy administration officials were at Rentschler Field explaining the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement to reporters, Republicans who have been critical of the numbers being used as part of the concession package were releasing a video below criticizing the agreement. They don’t believe the savings estimated by administration officials were realistic.
Roy Occhiogrosso, senior communications adviser, said these are serious times that require serious solutions.
“It’s not time for silly videos,” he said. However, he said he can understand the mounting frustration Republicans must be feeling toward the first Democratic governor in 16 years. Occhiogrosso said Malloy has accomplished more in his first four months than Republicans governors over the past 15 years.