HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy threatened to veto the budget proposals by Democratic and Republican leaders and is not holding his breath that lawmakers will be able to get a two-year budget vetted and passed Thursday.
“Other than the budget I have proposed previously there is no budget that I would sign,” Malloy said Monday after a meeting with legislative leaders. “I would not sign the Republicans budget, I would veto it. I would not sign the Democrats budget, as I understand its last iteration to be. I would veto it.”
He said it continues to be a “revenue driven discussion” when it comes to his “Democratic friends,” and he vehemently disagrees with how the Republican budget proposal treats collective bargaining.
What does it mean? It means legislative leaders have a few choices.
They could let Malloy run the state through executive order. His executive power only gives him so much authority so the budget for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year would include “Draconian” spending cuts to every state agency and municipality.
“While we recognize that the state is facing unprecedented budget challenges, property taxpayers in our small towns should not have to shoulder the lion’s share of the burden in addressing those challenges,” Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, said. “At this point, requiring towns to absorb cuts of this magnitude will overwhelm property taxpayers and wreak havoc in delivering critical services.”
The Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance President and CEO Gian-Carl Casa said the executive order would be equally as devastating for his members.
“There are devastating funding cuts to community-based providers in the executive order released today,” Casa said.
The second option he presented them with today is a “mini-budget” that legislators would have to approve.
The mini-budget includes a $360 million increase in revenues to help make sure some of the spending cuts aren’t as deep as they would need to be under Malloy’s executive authority.
For instance, municipal aid reductions would be less severe and it would ameliorate a cut in education aid municipalities. It would also send $35.6 million of state funding to hospitals, and restore $56.5 million in funding for non-profit providers, preserving many critical services or reducing financial harm to providers and their employees.
The catch? The General Assembly would need to approve it during a special session Thursday.
Legislative leaders and some of their members were at the state Capitol Monday trying to determine whether they could come up with a two-year budget that has enough votes to pass and get signed by the governor.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said he was hobbling due to his hip surgery, not because the governor applied any “physical pressure” during the hour-long meeting.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said their goal is still to come up with a two-year budget for the state of Connecticut. He said they intend to lock themselves in the building tonight and have an idea of where they’re at Tuesday morning.
The nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis would need at least 48 hours to score the two-year budget proposal before it could be shared with lawmakers on Thursday.
“Our caucus told us when we talked with them last time to work as hard as we can to come up with a budget for the state of Connecticut for the biennium,” Aresimowicz said.
He said they haven’t locked themselves into any one position and have remained flexible when it comes to revenue options. He said at some point they will reach a limit to what they can spend and will have to decide how much revenue they need to close a $5.1 billion, two-year deficit.
“We’re hoping to do that in the next few days,” Aresimowicz said.
Both the House and Senate Democratic caucuses have told their members to hold Thursday open on their calendars.
Joe DeLong, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said he appreciates the governor’s efforts and will let cities and towns understand the impact of both proposals.
“However, our continued focus will be on the adoption of a budget for the next biennium that protects property taxpayers and provides our communities with the tools and reforms needed to spur economic growth across all of Connecticut,” DeLong said.
Republican legislative leaders, Senate Republican President Len Fasano and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, said they doubt they’ll be asked to vote on a Democratic budget proposal Thursday.
Democrats still hold a majority in the House and are evenly split in the Senate where Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman can break a tie vote. Klarides said it’s unheard of that Democrats in the General Assembly also control the governor’s office and have been unable to pass a budget.
“The only reason this is happening is because of the close numbers in the House and the Senate,” Klarides said.
Democrats hold a 79-72 vote majority in the House and have Wyman to break a tie in the Senate.
Malloy said he heard legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle express their desire to get a two-year budget passed, but “it seems to me that everybody would like to get their budget.”