HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman are urging House and Senate leaders to quickly deal with this year’s $317 million deficit before moving onto the $5.1 billion deficit for the next two fiscal years.
In a letter sent to legislative leaders Tuesday morning, Malloy and Wyman urged the House and Senate to couple a deficit mitigation package with a deficiency bill, which helps move money around to clean up shortfalls in some accounts.
Last week the House approved a deficiency bill without taking care of the deficit. The Senate has yet to raise the measure, but there were plans to allow Senate Republicans to amend the bill and close the deficit. The addition of the amendment would have sent it back to the House for approval.
The letter touted the deficit mitigation plan pushed by the Senate Republicans last Thursday as “a responsible, compromise approach that has our support and deserves to be supported by the entire General Assembly.”
The Republican plan would sweep about $23 million in off-budget accounts and use the $235.6 million left in the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget. It would restore the $19.4 million grant to cities and towns that Malloy initially proposed to withhold from municipalities and restore $2 million to state hospitals.
On Tuesday morning, Malloy said he sent the letter because time is running out. “We’ve got to get the job done, bring our spending in line with our receipts,” Malloy said, adding that the difficult job of working out a long-term budget deal with concessions is completed.
“We have also made clear over several weeks our belief that the most prudent path for our state is to couple a deficit mitigation package with a deficiency bill,” Malloy and Wyman wrote.
By Tuesday afternoon, the plan was to run the deficit mitigation as a separate bill in the Senate and send it to the House. Malloy said he hasn’t seen the deficit mitigation bill in the Senate, “but I’m happy they’re willing to take it up and get it done.”
Connecticut’s creditworthiness has been recently downgraded by three Wall Street rating agencies.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said Tuesday that he expects the letter, which he hadn’t yet reviewed, would be discussed at a budget session with the governor scheduled later in the afternoon on Tuesday.
“We’ll adjust if we need to,” Aresimowicz said.
Aresimowicz said he understands the “clock is ticking” on getting a budget deal done with the General Assembly’s last day on June 7.
“Budgets have been negotiated in two days,” Aresimowicz said, though he conceded it is “not the best case scenario” to get a deal done in the waning days or on the last day of the session.
As of 4 p.m. the Senate had yet to convene to announce what bills it planned to debate Tuesday.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said they plan to approve a deficiency bill and take up the deficit mitigation package separately as an emergency certified bill.