Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called reporters down to his Capitol office Friday night after 10:30 p.m. to let them know he didn’t think he would be able to strike a deal with Democratic legislative leaders before noon Saturday.
The two-term governor said he thinks that “discussions are hitting a wall” and after one day of negotiating with Democratic legislative leaders it doesn’t appear “there’s a basis to get to a budget using that document and there doesn’t seem to be substantial movement off of that document.”
Democratic legislative leaders just came up with a budget proposal on Thursday that addressed a $920 million budget deficit. That deficit grew an additional $40 million on Friday after revenue figures were released following April tax collections.
Malloy said his team agreed to stay at the negotiating table until noon Saturday to reach a settlement “but it’s clear for me that that’s not going to happen.” He said Democratic legislative leaders are treating this like a revenue issue when it’s “a revenue issue and a spending issue.”
Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said it sounds like the governor “was just having a bad day.”
Looney said he wouldn’t say that negotiations are at an impasse since they just finished their first full day of work. He said he they have made “substantial cuts” and are fully committed to the negotiating process.
He said running a budget that hasn’t been negotiated with the governor “is not our preferred option.” He recalled that they negotiated a budget late Sunday into Monday and then a vote came Tuesday and Wednesday last year.
The session ends at midnight on May 4.
“I’m hopeful that we get one because it only gets harder by May 4,” Looney said. “I think other issues … might well have been sort of compromised and kind of swallowed for the good of the whole before May 4, but after that it becomes more difficult.”
Looney said they could still get a budget passed if they were able to get something negotiated by Sunday evening.
Looney and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said they hope Malloy and his staff stay at the negotiating table until they can reach a deal.
However, Malloy said the two sides are “hundreds of millions of dollars” apart at this point.
“I’m trying to lead them to understand that this is not a short term problem — this is a longer term problem,” Malloy said. “People believe we have to spend more money, but we don’t have more money to spend.”
He said if nothing can be cut in the budget then “nothing can be cobbled together.” He said it’s been “backed up to the final minutes of the fourth quarter” and “it is difficult to admit people can’t come to an agreement on both the spending and revenue side of the budget.”
Malloy has been going around the Capitol telling lobbyists that he expects them to be there all summer trying to put together a budget.
“We’re not making sufficient progress to get to a budget on the timeframe that is in front of us,” Malloy said.
He said there’s no “impasse” but legislative leaders need to proceed now in a way they feel is appropriate. He wouldn’t speculate on whether that means they should run a budget on their own that he’s likely to veto or not.
Looney and Aresimowicz said they hope Malloy stays at the negotiating table until they can get a deal worked out, no matter how long that takes.
Aresimowicz said it’s “disingenuous” of the governor to hold meetings in one room and then say he’s not holding out hope for a deal in another room.
The tension between Malloy and lawmakers from his own party seems to have grown over the past few days.
By calling the press into his office late Friday night, Malloy said he’s just acknowledging the work that has to be done and that his relationship with legislative leaders from his own party is not strained.
Aresimowicz said there’s a “natural tension” between the legislative and executive branch of government, and that’s what is playing out now.
“Hopefully we’ll get past that, get to the table and come up with an agreement,” Aresimowicz said.