HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said it’s time for lawmakers to check their partisanship and egos at the door and pass a temporary, 90-day budget as they work on a two-year spending plan.
“It’s apparent to me that we’re not going to have a budget in a matter of days,” Malloy said Monday following a discussion with families concerned about their loved ones not able to receive services through Harc, a nonprofit supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Malloy is currently running the state by executive order, which means nonprofit organizations that provide services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are looking at a $44 million cut in funding. For Harc, it means their staff have had to take furlough days. And when that happens the clients who rely on those staff are not receiving services.
“I’m not defensive about it. I just wish I didn’t have to do that,” Malloy explained.
Greg Calnen, a board member whose aunt receives services at Harc, said he wants lawmakers to understand that the budget impacts families too. He said family members have to stay home to take care of their loved one if they’re not able to drop them off at a Harc day program.
He said the staff who have to take furlough days will also be impacted.
“This is not the best of circumstances,” Malloy admitted. He additionally called it “inhumane.”
But Malloy’s words may have fallen on deaf ears as lawmakers continued to struggle with the budget picture, both short- and long-term.
“No one was willing to check their egos at the door,” Malloy said.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said her caucus is still willing to vote on a one-month solution, but not a 90-day solution.
“House Republicans are prepared to vote on our two-year budget now, and formulate a temporary, one-month budget version as well that does not gut social services,” Klarides said.
She would not say whether there were votes for any other budget.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, who has 79 members, but needs 76 to agree in order to pass a budget, said every day that “we delay and do not sit down and negotiate in earnest toward a full, two-year budget is a step back, and that is the only thing a so-called ‘mini-budget’ would do.”
He said the only way to move forward is to focus all of the energy on a two-year budget that the governor will sign.
Both Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans have said they were willing to move forward with a 90-day solution in lieu of a two-year budget agreement.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said “Democrats are being disrespectful to the people of Connecticut by not having any idea for a budget.” He said every day that goes by without one “compounds the problem” the state faces.
The governor said the proposal for a 90-day budget, which he put forward at the end of June, is negotiable to an extent.
“This was always going to be complicated — that’s what I saw on the eve of this fiscal year,” Malloy said of the two-year budget and the $1.57 billion labor package.
He said that’s why he put forward the so-called mini-budget in the first place.
Malloy didn’t feel comfortable Monday predicting when he thought the state would have a budget. He said it’s complicated, which is why it hasn’t happened yet. He said there are several moving parts, including the labor package — which the unions were still voting upon at the time of his press conference.
Rank-and-file union members are expected to have an answer Tuesday about whether they adopted the $1.57 billion concession package. Klarides said she believes the state would save more money if the General Assembly rejects the concession deal and opts to eliminate contract negotiations, empowering the legislature to vote on changes to state employee wages and benefits.
If the legislature goes that route, Malloy said it means over the next few years until 2022 — as current agreements run out and based on staff attrition — another 16,000 people will be hired under the current wage and benefit package instead of a new one he negotiated. Malloy said the deal he negotiated would cost the state less money because it would ask employees to contribute more to their health and pension benefits.
When will the General Assembly get to an agreement?
Malloy said “if the people at the legislature were feeling the kind of pain that the people at Harc are feeling, we’d get there. And when they start to feel that level of discomfort, we’ll get there.”