(Updated 2:06 p.m.) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will get most of the rescission authority he requested, but after late night discussions with Democratic lawmakers it looks like the legislature will play a bigger role than initially intentioned in those decisions.
Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said the legislature will have the ability between July 15 and Aug. 30 to reject any rescissions Malloy makes through negotiations. If those negotiations fail then the legislature has the ability to call a public hearing and call themselves back into special session to vote on the matter.
Earlier this week, Malloy requested increased rescission authority up to 10 percent of any fund or $45 million of any line item. He also asked for the power to cut municipal aid by 3 percent. The request to cut funding to cities and towns by about $54 million each year of the two-year budget does not include cuts to education funding. Lawmakers are looking to reduce his request to cut municipal aid to 2 percent and only give him until Sept. 30 to make those cuts.
Currently the governor has no authority to cut municipal aid without the approval of the legislature. The legislature will vote on the additional rescission authority later today.
According to documents obtained by CTNewsjunkie, the governor will be required to submit the entire budget adjustment plan to the General Assembly on or before July 15, then the Appropriations Committee will hold hearings on any or all aspects of it. The legislature will then convene to reject or modify any or all elements of the governor’s budget adjustment plan and the governor’s rescission authority will expire Sept. 30.
House Speaker Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said there were concerns in his caucus that the legislature was ceding too much power to the governor, so they spent Wednesday trying to craft a solution.
“We agree we need to deal with the problem and take decisive action to deal with the problem,” Donovan said. “And we want to be partners with the governor.”
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said he was told by Donovan that the new bill will be modified and will still give the governor rescission authority, but for a more limited time period.
The governor requested the rescission authority for the next two years, but Cafero said it’s likely that will be modified, though he’s just not certain how. He said it’s possible the legislature will ask the governor to present some of the cuts for periodic hearings of legislative committees.
“I don’t know if it’s for a lesser period of time, or if he has to come before the legislature,” Cafero said.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern about giving the governor so much power — with Republicans doing so in public and the Democrats in private.
Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, said he can’t comment on the details, but he said he is hopeful a resolution can be reached today.
In addition to the rescission authority, Malloy also asked the legislature to change how pensions for state employees are calculated and for other changes to the collective bargaining process.
The proposed changes to the collective bargaining process come just days after the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition was unable to figure out a way to ratify the $1.6 billion concession package and Malloy’s announcement that he is preparing to lay off nearly 5,500 state employees.
Union members in their green AFSCME T-shirts lined the halls of the Capitol this morning to speak to lawmakers as they began to trickle in for what will likely be a long day.