The top Democratic lawmaker in the House certainly doesn’t agree with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s recent emergency budget cuts, but he also does not believe a special session is the best way to address the problem.
In a strongly worded letter to Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Monday that he also doesn’t like the cuts to hospitals.
However, Sharkey said a special session is not “responsible.” He said they could hold a special session and pass legislation the governor would likely veto and the newly revised budget would still be subject to revision by the governor.
Fasano and top Republican leaders held two press conferences last week trying to put political pressure on their Democratic colleagues to call a special session to address what the governor’s budget office says is a revenue problem, as a result of a drop in the stock market.
The first press conference featured hospital executives who joined Republicans in opposing the $63.4 million cut to Medicaid, which ends up being a $190 million cut to the hospitals’ bottom line because of the loss of federal reimbursement. The cut is about 40 percent of the revenue that the 29 acute care hospitals receive from the state. The second press conference was in Fairfield where General Electric is headquartered. The iconic company announced in June that it was thinking about relocating its headquarters after what it considered to be the passage of an unfriendly state budget.
Sharkey reasoned that even if they returned to a special session, the governor would likely veto any changes to the budget they approved. And Sharkey admitted that they don’t have the super majority necessary to support a veto override.
“The result would leave us at status quo ante, after having charged the taxpayers with all the expenses of a special session, and nothing to show for it,” Sharkey wrote in his letter to Fasano. “I believe rather than playing politics by grandstanding for a pointless gesture, your efforts would be better served by working to develop and identify specific alternatives to these proposed cuts.”
Malloy has the power to rescind up to 5 percent of any line item and 3 percent of any fund without seeking legislative approval. But there are items in the budget he can’t touch without legislative approval, such as municipal aid and entitlements.
“I believe that in the context of the governor’s exclusive authority over these rescissions, a well-considered, responsible and achievable package of alternatives can be presented to the governor for his consideration,” Sharkey said. “That, coupled with the public’s expression of disagreement, may lead to his reconsideration. The Democratic leaders in the legislature are already moving in this direction.”
Fasano did not respond to a request to comment on Sharkey’s response to his Sept. 18 letter. A spokesman for Malloy also didn’t respond to a request to comment on Sharkey’s proposal.