HARTFORD, CT — Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked Republican legislative leaders Thursday whether they were truly feeling the urgency they indicated to adopt a state budget and whether they plan to put forward their own proposal.
“If you believe that a May 5 deadline is not only appropriate but achievable, it follows that your own budget would be ready in the very near future,” Malloy wrote in a letter to Senate Republican President Len Fasano and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides.
The letter comes a day after the Senate failed to pass legislation that would have allowed municipalities to delay their budget process in order to avoid over- or under-taxing residents based on the assumptions in Malloy’s budget proposal, which would make several significant changes to municipal aid formulas.
“Thank you for your obviously politically charged and partisan letter today,” Fasano shot back in his letter to Malloy.
Fasano sent a letter to Democratic legislators Wednesday pointing out that adopting a state budget by May 5 would give cities and towns the predictability they need and passing additional legislation was just going to cause confusion.
In his letter to Malloy, Fasano said in 2011, the year of the biggest tax hike in Connecticut’s history, they passed a budget on May 3 and Malloy signed it on May 4.
Fasano urged Malloy to ask Democratic lawmakers to agree to a May 5 deadline, but made no commitment to present an alternative budget proposal.
On Friday, Malloy sent another letter to Fasano pressing him for information about when he expects to unveil his own line-by-line budget.
Klarides said her members are fully engaged in the budget process and she expects that her caucus will offer alternatives to the tax and spending plans they were presented with by Malloy on Feb. 8. Exactly when that alternative would be ready is still unknown.
Fasano pointed out that since 2011 Republicans have put forward 12 budget alternatives.
However, in past years Republicans have held fewer seats in both the House and the Senate. This year Republicans hold 72 House seats and 18 Senate seats. The party expects to be included in budget negotiations.
Despite the closer margins, partisan politics seem to be alive and well.
The Connecticut Democratic Party got involved in responding to the back and forth bickering over arbitrary budget deadlines.
“Republicans have used time, energy, and taxpayer resources to attack Governor Malloy’s budget proposal, yet Senator Fasano bristles at the suggestion that he should offer actual budget solutions?” Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Michael Mandell said Thursday. “This along with recent statements do not show that the Republican Senate leaders are serious about moving beyond petty political disagreements. Why should we should be surprised? It’s been 10 years since they supported a budget that helped create this situation.”
The legislature’s two budget writing committees, which are still controlled by the Democrats, have until the end of April to submit their budget proposals. While they could push up the deadline they can’t push it up much because April 15 is when income taxes are due to the state. The state will need a few more days to calculate how much revenue to expect as a result.
The governor’s budget received some considerable push back Thursday from lawmakers on the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, and a group of small town elected officials.
“We can only get the government that we can afford,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes told Republican lawmakers on the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee Thursday. “If we’re not prepared to raise fees or taxes to fund those activities, then we should be prepared to discontinue those activities and I look forward to seeing your caucus’ proposal to do just that.”