Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told a group of business executives gathered last week for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s 200th annual meeting that he’s going to get the state’s short and long term obligations under control.
Having already used his executive authority to cut $103 million from the 2016 budget, Malloy talked last Thursday about how he’s getting Democratic and Republican lawmakers together to reduce spending even further.
Malloy told business executives that the budget he presented to lawmakers in the spring would have spent less money than the one approved by the legislature and which he eventually signed into law in June that raised taxes about $1.3 billion over two years. That budget is now experiencing a deficit of about $118.4 million.
Malloy has invited both Democratic and Republican legislative leaders to help him resolve that deficit. It’s only the second time in Malloy’s five years in office that Republicans have been offered a seat at the negotiating table.
While grateful they have been invited to participate, Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said Friday that he’s not going to let Malloy continue to offer a “false narrative” of how the state ended up with a deficit only four months into the fiscal year.
“For the governor to try to distance himself now from all his past decisions including the budget is a false narrative. If the governor wanted people to move to the center as he’s stated, clearly having the Republicans in the room in the spring would have been the best way,” Fasano said. “But he refused to give Republicans that opportunity. While I’m encouraged that the governor wants to do something now to fix this mess, he cannot forget who and what created the problems — the actions of this governor and the majority party.”
Malloy said the budget he offered in April reduced spending by about $600 million.
“That budget was panned by just about everybody because they didn’t like the things that were cut,” Malloy told the business audience. “. . . And yet months later we end up with a budget that spends more money than people wanted to be spent and we try to figure out how that happened. I want to spend less money.”
During the past six weeks Malloy used his executive authority to cut $103 million from the budget. Again, most of those cuts — including a $63.5 million cut to hospitals — have been criticized by legislators from both parties.
But “neither side has proposed alternatives to that approach,” Malloy said.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey has recently disagreed with Malloy’s assessment of alternatives. Sharkey said they proposed an across-the-board cut of 2.5 percent the same day Malloy announced he would convene bipartisan budget talks and hold a special session.
Malloy has countered that he doesn’t believe Sharkey understands what those spending cuts actually mean for services. But he’s declined to get into a back and forth over the proposal with the speaker.