Even though details have not yet been made available to lawmakers or the public, the state’s largest business organization called on the General Assembly to approve the negotiated budget agreement reached last week between Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The agreement, which is only detailed thus far in a 31-page Excel spreadsheet, doesn’t include any new taxes and cuts about $830 million in state spending.
“By passing the no tax hike budget, lawmakers will begin the process of getting Connecticut’s fiscal house in order and addressing the greater challenges ahead,” CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan said.
However, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, who is typically aligned with the business organization, said the budget does nothing more than support the status quo.
“CBIA is accepting business as usual at the state Capitol, perhaps in fear of retribution next year,” Fasano said. “They are telling lawmakers to support a budget that does not make the significant policy changes our state needs to build a better future. Instead, they are backing a budget that cuts from the core functions of government and was built on the simple fact that the state is out of money.”
He said a “shortsighted budget will only lead to more taxes in future years.”
Fasano said if Democrats don’t have a budget, or the language to implement that budget, by noon Tuesday then they should postpone the special session that has tentatively been scheduled for Thursday.
He said he’s not going to make his staff work overtime in order to prepare for a vote on Thursday because the materials they need are not available.
Spokesmen for Democratic House Speaker Brendan Sharkey offered no time frame for the documents to be released and a spokesman for Senate President Martin Looney didn’t respond to requests for information about the documents.
Fasano said his staff has not been given any information.
Meanwhile, the labor unions have been encouraging their members to ask lawmakers to reject the budget.
“We must make our voices heard today to assure legislators reject a plan that will protect the wealthy at the expense of Connecticut’s working and middle class families,” AFSCME Council 4 said in a message to its members. “Tell your representative and senator to vote NO on austerity, NO on cutting public services or the workers who provide them, and NO on property tax hikes.”
But CBIA doesn’t see that there’s a choice.
“While many of the spending cuts in the budget agreement are difficult, we have no alternative,” Brennan said. “Raising taxes yet again on individuals and businesses will only make the situation worse and lead to further declining revenues.”
Connecticut’s largest municipal lobby will also hold a press conference Tuesday morning to detail what state lawmakers can do in order to mitigate the reduction in municipal aid.
The Senate is expected to convene a special session Thursday to approve the budget and bond package, along with a separate piece of legislation detailing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s changes to the criminal justice system.