Democratic legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced they reached a budget deal on Tuesday at 11 p.m. but they were unable to get the document drafted in time to debate it before Wednesday’s deadline. On Thursday afternoon it still wasn’t publicly available.
Lawmakers, including Republican legislative leaders, were given a 31-page Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which included a revenue summary and spending cuts. What was still missing Thursday is language that explains how those spending cuts and revenue changes will be implemented.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said she knows there has been discussion about “whose fault it was that there was not a document produced.” She said she plans to talk to House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, about when a document will be produced.
Now that Democratic lawmakers postponed a vote on the budget until next week, Klarides said it’s imperative that they give Republicans a chance to review the $19.76 billion budget before a debate.
“I’m not going to get a document on Thursday to do on Friday,” Klarides said.
And while it’s likely there’s no Republican votes in favor of the budget, “we need to know what it is before we can decide whether we like it or we don’t like it,” Klarides said.
She said she doesn’t want to be unreasonable about the length of a debate.
“We’re not talking about 12 hours of filibustering,” Klarides said. “But it would not be unreasonable to talk about a $20 billion budget and a $1 billion deficit for three or four hours.”
During a press conference Wednesday, Republican leaders pointed out that the negotiated budget deal cuts $32.2 million in Education Cost Sharing funds, $23.3 million in transportation funding for school children, and $4.3 million in special education. The deal also cuts $16.9 million in property tax relief to municipalities with state-owned property and $10.5 million in property tax relief for municipalities with college and hospital property.
Republicans also pointed out that 30 towns won’t get the car tax break they were promised.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, admitted Wednesday that the longer the budget is out there for people to digest and analyze, the more difficult it could be to pass.
“We hope it won’t be hard,” Looney said. But somebody could liken it to “something that stays too long on a counter like a fish that stays out there and may start to smell after a few days. We think this one will hold its freshness long enough to get it voted next week.”
The negotiated budget deal is being called the “austerity budget” by progressive groups and labor.
In an email to their supporters, Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Working Families Party, urged supporters to contact their lawmakers and tell them to look for ways to raise revenue.
Farrell said the budget deal slashes services for hard working families and lays off thousands of state workers.
“Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it, we should ask the richest 1 percent and wealthy corporations to pay their fair share,” Farrell said.
Malloy was adamant that the negotiated deal would not be changed before a vote.
“If this delay begins a discussion about re-opening the agreement in order to find a way to avoid difficult decisions, that’s unacceptable,” Malloy said Wednesday. “I will not move from the principles we’ve agreed to. I want to reassure the citizens of Connecticut that if we don’t take the necessary action together, I will take whatever steps necessary to bring our budget into balance.”
Klarides said leaders are talking about possibly holding a vote Thursday or Friday next week.