Democratic legislative leaders said they have a budget proposal that addresses the budget deficit, but they haven’t shared it with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the public, or the news media.
“Democrats have a budget package that does address the full deficit in 2017,” House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said Wednesday.
However, he declined to comment on the lack of communication with the governor. He indicated he would have more to say today about that after meeting behind closed-doors with his members.
Typically, the governor puts forward a budget in February and the Appropriations and Finance Committees respond with their own budget, then the two go behind closed-doors and iron out their differences. This year is different.
Shortly after Malloy proposed cutting $570 million, revenues continued to fall creating a more than $900 million deficit. Democratic lawmakers were given an extra week to finish their budget proposal, but in the end decided to close the $570 million hole, and not the full $922 million hole. That prompted Malloy to release a revised budget on April 12, and then on April 25 Republican lawmakers released their own alternative budget.
“There will be a budget that both the House and Senate caucus will support,” Sharkey said Wednesday. “And I think it’s substantially better than the other two proposals that have been offered thus far.”
Democratic lawmakers had hoped revenues would come in stronger after the April 18 tax filing deadline, but there’s no indication it’s happening.
Rep. Jeffrey Berger, D-Waterbury, who co-chairs the Finance Committee, said they would have to bring in $148 million over the next two days to hit their projections.
Malloy’s staff made it clear Wednesday that the governor’s not interested in signing a budget his staff didn’t negotiate and Democratic lawmakers have not asked for a meeting with the governor.
None of the Democratic rank-and-file lawmakers have copies of budget proposals or notes and it’s unclear if a Democratic budget proposal even exists. Typically, a lawmaker will leak a piece of paper to a lobbyist or some written details of what’s in the budget deal will be passed around, but none of the lobbyists and lawmakers are sharing any information. This essentially means there’s nothing for anyone to lobby about at the moment.
“I feel like I’m not doing my job,” one lobbyist said in frustration with the lack of information on the Democratic budget proposal.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said budget discussions are continuing as they wait for the final revenue projections.
“We’re hoping to have additional discussions with the administration,” Looney said. “We are hoping to have a budget the governor will sign.”
But the administration has made it clear they’re not interested in being shown part of a budget bill. They want to see the entire package and they want to negotiate.
And the clock is ticking. The legislative session adjourns on May 4.