HARTFORD, CT — Will Connecticut’s small Democratic majority try to adopt a state budget on their own?
That seems to be the direction they are headed, but Republican legislative leaders said it’s not because they haven’t been trying to be part of the conversation.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said they’ve revised their budget proposal following the vote on $1.57 billion in labor concessions and are willing to continue the conversation.
They’ve met at least two times with Democratic legislative leaders and have another meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
“Once you wake up to the sobering reality you can’t use your power to pass a budget on a partisan basis in the House — you’ll be at our front door,” Fasano said last week.
Kelly Donnelly, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s spokesperson, said Fasano seems to forget he holds an equal number of seats in the Senate.
“Despite his big talk over these many months about co-leadership and a new dynamic in his chamber, the Senator is showing that he remains much more comfortable taking cheap shots from the cheap seats,” Donnelly said Friday. “He should spend less time writing letters and press releases and more time working to build consensus around a budget.”
Fasano said he would like to remind Donnelly that Republicans can’t call themselves into session. Under the historic power sharing agreement the two parties finalized last December, Republicans are not allowed to call the Senate into session. That authority still resides with Democrats.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said Friday that there are currently no budget negotiations going on.
He said they will have a budget ready for Republicans to review by Tuesday. That document will be something “my caucus is pretty comfortable with,” Aresimowicz said.
However, it’s still going to be a budget his membership doesn’t like 100 percent.
Republican legislative leaders say they will believe it when they see it.
“I can’t work in fantasy land,” Fasano said.
He said they need to start negotiating and agree to give things up in order to get to an agreement.
Fasano added that the “inaction is devastating” for the state.
He said if Democrats still plan on introducing a budget that increases the sales tax, it might pass the General Assembly. But Fasano said it will never be signed by the governor.
On Friday, Malloy said based on what’s he’s heard, the discussions among Democrats “continue to be led by revenue.”
He said when you do the math on the drafts Democrats have floated, they would have to raise $1 billion in revenue in order to balance the budget. Previously, Malloy said he would veto a budget that sought to increase taxes by $1 billion.
On Friday, Malloy said reporters continue to write about the sales tax proposal, but it “begs the question where the other revenue is going to come from” in order to balance the two-year budget.
Malloy has been operating the state through executive order since July 1. He announced some revisions Friday to a plan he made public in June.
As far as progress toward a two-year budget, Malloy said he doesn’t think Democratic legislators are close as they purport to be on a budget deal.
“I don’t think they’re that close,” Malloy said Friday. “But I don’t know because I have not personally seen the document they’re working on.”
A day earlier, Democratic legislative leaders said they planned to make public that document this week.
Aresimowicz said they plan to have three solid weeks of negotiations before a budget vote the week of September 11.
“I don’t know that I could work much harder and on any less sleep,” Aresimowicz said.
He said he’s been at the Capitol every day working on a solution to what’s now a $3.5 billion, two-year budget deficit. He said he’s been meeting with lawmakers in groups and individually to run proposals past them.
Fasano said that if Aresimowicz thinks he has a budget that can get 76 votes in the House and 19 in the Senate and will be signed by the governor, then he should vote on it. Otherwise, “you’re wasting people’s time,” Fasano said.