At least one chamber is expected to vote on a state budget Thursday, but there are still some documents that will be discussed as part of a one-day special session that have yet to be made public.
By the end of the day Tuesday, the budget document, fiscal note, and bill analysis were all available online for lawmakers and the public to view, but a bill stating how that budget will be implemented and another that would spell out Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s criminal justice reforms were still not available.
“If the Democrats were in such a rush to get this budget vote over with, then why are we still waiting for the details?” Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said Tuesday. “Why is the budget still incomplete? Why is transparency being delayed?”
Fasano suggested Tuesday that there shouldn’t be a vote on the budget unless lawmakers and their staff have all the information, including the so-called budget implementer, which says how the budget will be implemented.
“The implementer often becomes the Trojan horse of bad policies, hiding them away in the hundreds of pages of budget implementation language,” Fasano said. “The special session scheduled for Thursday should not move forward until the public has been given the opportunity to read, analyze, and raise questions about not only the budget but the implementer as well.”
But Democrats were not convinced a delay was necessary.
“Democrats in the Senate have already accommodated the Republicans’ vacation schedules and we’ve accommodated the Republicans’ request to not hold session on the day of their state party convention — at some point they are going to have to face the music and vote on a budget,” Adam Joseph, a spokesman for Senate Democratic caucus, said. “The Senate is not going to further delay a vote on a balanced budget that makes hundreds of millions of dollars in structural changes. We’ll see them Thursday.”
Fasano said every day the Democrats withhold the implementer, “transparency goes out the door.”
It’s bad enough it took six days to see a 95-page budget bill, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said.
“It took six days for the Democrats, after they said they had a deal, to release a skeletal framework of a budget without supporting data in advance of the special session that we presume will take place later this week, emphasis on presume,” Klarides said.
She said while the documents that were released Tuesday seem to match the details released in spreadsheets, there are still no structural changes that will make sure the state isn’t back in a special session after the November election to fix another budget deficit.
“The budget that will inevitably lead to future budget deficits and deep cuts to towns and cities and our social services network,” Klarides said.
It’s unclear when the House will hold a special session to adjust the 2017 budget and close the $960 million deficit. No date has been set.
Meanwhile, labor leaders continue to urge their members to call lawmakers to change the budget proposal.
“A bad budget will cause thousands of layoffs and cuts to state services while forcing towns to raise property taxes; that will damage our economy well beyond 2016 at a time when we teeter on the edge of a recession,” Dave Glidden, CSEA executive director, said.
The Working Families Party issued a similar call to their members.
“Instead of broad cuts to services and massive layoffs, legislators should be looking for ways to raise revenue. 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,” Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Working Families Party, said in an email.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association is supporting the negotiated budget deal.
In a statement Monday, CBIA President and CEO Joe Brennan urged lawmakers to approve the package.
“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,” Brennan said.