HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 1:15 p.m.) Legislative leaders and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy met for about an hour Wednesday to discuss how to move forward with a two-year budget that closes a $5.1 billion deficit.
But they won’t know until after tomorrow whether they will convene June 29 to pass a two-year budget or a continuing resolution.
However, Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, who attended the meeting by phone, said Malloy told them in no uncertain terms that he would veto a continuing resolution.
“I think he was reminding us there’s no easy way out of this and we just can’t pass continuing resolutions and govern piecemeal,” Looney said Wednesday in a phone interview.
The House and the Senate are expected to meet Thursday to discuss the various budget proposals— some of which came to fruition after the regular session ended on June 7.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said he doesn’t believe it’s a good idea to offer any details about what’s in the various budget proposals before giving lawmakers another opportunity to discuss them.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis did a line-by-line comparison of the governor’s proposal, the Democratic proposal and the Republican proposal. He said they would present the various ideas to their caucus on Thursday to gauge their “temperature.”
The House needs 76 votes to pass a budget and there are 79 Democratic members and 72 Republicans. The Senate is evenly divided between the two parties and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman is the tie breaking vote.
Aresimowicz said it’s premature to talk about any revenue proposals that may be included in the Democratic proposal. He has previously said he wouldn’t rule out any revenue, including revenue generated from legalizing recreational marijuana to installing electronic highway tolls.
Republican legislative leaders who had previously said they wanted to see more labor concessions softened their stance and said they would be open to a budget that saves the same amount of money.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said they’re not going to rule anything out.
“I think we’re open to the conversation about it,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said.
Rank-and-file union members are expected to vote on a concession deal in mid-July 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 years.
If lawmakers are able to vote on June 29, then they will have to hope that labor approves the deal.
Legislative leaders are expected to meet again on Monday, June 26 to see if they can find any agreement.
Meanwhile, Malloy presented legislative leaders with five principles he will use to run the state if there is no budget.
He told them he will only fund the core functions of state government.
“Operating state government through executive authority is not my preferred method, but in the absence of a biennial budget from the legislature I must prepare contingency plans,” Malloy said. “I am committed to ensuring that the state is managed responsibly and in such a way that we do not exacerbate our existing fiscal challenges.”
Malloy’s contingency plan will be based on these principles:
1. We should not increase our projected deficit – rather, we should apportion funds according to a plan that is in balance for the entire fiscal year.
2. We should allocate funding to first support the most essential health, safety, and human services for our most vulnerable residents.
3. We should consider the fiscal capacity of outside organizations – including cities and towns – when apportioning reductions.
4. We should comply with various court orders, stipulations, and mandates, including but not limited to the Municipal Revenue Sharing Account (MRSA), the Juan F. case, CCJEF, and the SNAP and Medicaid programs.
5. We should honor our tentative collective bargaining agreements while such agreements are under consideration by state employees and by the Connecticut General Assembly.
Malloy wouldn’t say whether community nonprofit providers would see a reduction in funding, only that they would be “impacted.” How badly they will be impacted remains to be seen.
Connecticut contracts about $1 billion in health and human services to private nonprofit providers, who are concerned about continuing their operations without state funding.
Without a budget there is also no Education Cost Sharing formula to use in order to fund public schools.
“We need to get that worked on,” Malloy said.