It was obvious as the minutes ticked away Tuesday that chances were slim that the House would pass a two-year, $40.3 billion budget before the last day of the 2015 legislative session.
The tax package, which raises nearly $1.2 billion in taxes over two years — or $2 billion, depending on who you talk to — became a sticking point for several Democratic lawmakers. Some couldn’t stomach voting for a tax increase just four years after the largest tax increase in state history, while others opposed the composition of the tax package.
Some lawmakers were convinced as the day progressed, while others remained firmly in the “no” column.
The last election narrowed the Democratic majority in both chambers. All it would take to defeat the budget deal is 15 defecting Democrats — 11 representatives and four senators — to vote with unanimous blocks of Republicans in both chambers against the budget. That assumes all Republicans are present and that the one Democratic lawmaker out with an illness all year remains absent.
“You need 76 trombones before the chorus sings,“ Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven said alluding to the 76 votes needed to pass the budget in the House.
As of 4 a.m. Wednesday morning they were still searching for the “trombones” to pass a budget.
Sources say Sharkey declined the governor’s help in getting more members on board with the final deal. Lawmakers only have until midnight to pass a budget. It’s possible they could call themselves into special session to adopt a budget immediately after they adjourn.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said if Republicans wanted to filibuster until midnight Wednesday they could. She said as each minute ticks away House Speaker Brendan Sharkey has to decide the value of moving forward with a vote.
“The farther down the road it gets the more value to the conversation,” Klarides said.
Sharkey remained in his office and didn’t come out to vote on several bills as a group of reporters staked out the dias in the House chamber.
It was still unknown early Wednesday morning if Sharkey would have the votes for the budget.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said a lot can happen in a single day and he remained optimistic they would have a budget before they adjourn on Wednesday.
“There are challenges and there are ways to surmount those challenges,” Looney said.
Sharkey was meeting with his members who were unable to support the budget behind closed doors most of Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
Looney said he’s confident that if the bill gets to the Senate he has the votes to pass it.