HARTFORD, CT — The Senate spent nearly two hours on the closing day of the legislative session debating a Republican budget that never had a shot of being called for a vote.
In the first evenly divided Senate in more than 100 years, Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, used his political capital to negotiate time for a debate on the Republican budget proposal.
Senate Democrats, who spent more than an hour debating earned family medical leave before tabling the issue Tuesday, agreed to allow Republicans to debate their budget.
“I have not heard a lot of push back on our budget,” Fasano said.
However, Fasano admitted that they didn’t actively lobby their Democratic colleagues to win support for the measure, which would spend $39.5 billion over the next two years.
“It’s out there. They’ve got to read it for themselves,” Fasano said.
Budget negotiations between legislative leaders and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy have largely been on hold since they agreed to handle the two-year budget in a special session that is expected to be held sometime before June 30. Both chambers approved a resolution that calls the legislature back into special session.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said “this is yet another act of political theater on their part.”
He said Republicans agreed to support the call to special session for the budget, so it’s confusing as to why they would want to debate their budget.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, called it an outrage because it was Republicans who asked for a rule change to have a budget on Senator’s desk for at least 12 hours before debate.
“I would prefer we work on a bipartisan basis,” Duff said.
The Republican proposal would make statutory changes on state employees’ health and pension benefits, eliminate two state holidays, increase the course load for UConn professors, prohibit any meal or clothing allowances, and eliminate all executive assistant positions.
The Connecticut State Employees Association said the Republican proposal is “premised on the delusion that working people make too much money and that protecting the wealthy and businesses from contributing one cent more to solving our budget problems will somehow spur growth.”
In a statement, the union said the Republican budget “ignores the reality that two of our state’s largest employers are headed to states with higher tax rates.”
Last month, Malloy and the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition reached a tentative framework for a concession package that saves the state $700.9 million in the first year and $868.6 million in the second year for a cumulative savings of $1.569 billion over the next two fiscal years. The individual bargaining groups still have to ratify the concession deal.
The Republican budget proposal was eventually withdrawn and business continued in the Senate as they raced to the midnight end of the regular legislative session.