After weeks of negotiations, Republican legislative leaders exited the governor’s Capitol office Thursday to say they just couldn’t reach an agreement with their Democratic colleagues on a deal to close a $350 million budget gap.
However, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy feels there was enough agreement in the room to hold a special session Tuesday, Dec. 8, to cut $350 million from the 2016 budget and modify some business taxes.
After four hours of negotiations Thursday, Republicans and Democrats exited Malloy’s office together to speak with reporters.
“The policy differences will keep us from reaching a bipartisan agreement with respect to the budget,” Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said.
Fasano said they tried really hard to reach an agreement and had a “great exchange,” but just weren’t able to make it happen. He declined to elaborate on the exact sticking points, but he said they got hung up on policies regarding the structure of the budget.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said they don’t want to talk about the policy differences because they want to keep open the possibility that they could strike a deal between now and next Tuesday. There are no formal meetings scheduled between legislative leaders.
Sharkey said he thinks the Democratic caucuses have an agreement with the governor.
“We have general agreement with the governor right now,” Sharkey said.
Malloy declined to confirm such a deal existed.
“If this was only about spending, we have for all intent and purpose an agreement,” Malloy said. “I think both sides have to figure out where they are on this quote, unquote policy stuff. In my opinion, it’s close enough I’m calling them in.”
In general, Malloy said there was “far more agreement, then there is disagreement.”
Republican lawmakers wouldn’t outline their policy differences, but they pointed out some of what they liked about the package.
Fasano said Republicans support the business tax package Malloy put together. He said even though they may not be able to support the final deficit mitigation plan when it comes together, they want General Electric to know that the Republican caucuses support those tax changes. GE officials are scheduled to meet with the governor Friday.
Headquartered in Fairfield for the last 40 years, GE started exploring relocation options after seeing the tax package the legislature and Malloy approved in June. Friday’s meeting will be Malloy’s second with the company to try and get them to stay in Fairfield.