Democratic lawmakers ignored their first proposal, but Republican lawmakers thought they would try again Thursday. Following the announcement of plummeting state revenue, the GOP trotted out a second budget proposal.
The second attempt at balancing the 2015 budget, which is nearly $300 million in deficit after Wednesday’s revenue estimates, included not restoring the sales tax exemption for over-the-counter medication and clothing and footwear, a hiring freeze, and ban on state employee travel.
But like their first budget, the second Republican budget relies on Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s 2011 tax increases and continues borrowing to pay for the 2009 Economic Recovery Notes.
Malloy’s first budget in 2011 included $1.8 billion in tax increases. None of those increases were repealed by Republicans in either budget proposal. The first Republican budget proposed paying off the $150 million in debt from the 2009 Economic Recovery Notes, but they were unable to get there in the second proposal.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said this isn’t a Republican budget, “this is a Republican alternative to their mid-year changes.”
“We’re doing the best we can with the cards we’ve been dealt with this administration and this legislature,” Cafero said. “To undo the wrong that has been done.”
Cafero didn’t deny that the proposal they put forward Thursday relied on “gimmicks” included over the years in Democratic budgets. He said any additional revenues they have will be used to pay down the 2009 debt that the state borrowed to balance the 2010 budget.
“It’s not ignoring it. It’s not pretending it doesn’t exist,” Cafero said. “We’ll be the first to admit it’s still there and we’re doing everything in our power with the tools that we have and the economic environment that was given to us frankly by this Democratic governor and this Democratic legislature.”
He said they’re doing their best to correct it, but they don’t have a seat at the table. Democratic lawmakers and the Malloy administration have decided to not include Republicans in budget negotiations.
Unable to take part in the discussions, Republicans were left to make another pitch to the news media about what they felt should happen and what they’re hearing may happen.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said they were told that there will not be a vote in either chamber on anything controversial, including keno.
The Republican budget proposal repeals keno.
“We won’t have votes on things that are controversial,” McKinney said. “And any bill that can be amended by keno won’t be taken up and we’re going to see a lot of legislation fall into the implementers.”
Instead of debating the bills on the floor of the House or the Senate, the bill language will be included in what are called budget implementers. Simply put, budget implementers are language implementing the dollars approved in the budget. Almost every piece of legislation that wasn’t previously approved could be added to the implementer bill which is typically hundreds of pages long.
A spokesman for Malloy said the budget that Democratic lawmakers and the governor plan to approve will make “sure that our most vulnerable receive the protections they deserve.”
“Since February, we’ve been working with the governor toward the goal of adopting a responsible balanced budget without any new taxes that provides the services our residents expect,” House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said in a statement. “That is what we are focused on, and that’s what we are going to do.”