HARTFORD, CT — House Democratic leaders said Wednesday that they plan to hold a vote next week on a two-year budget regardless of whether they have a deal.
The alternative — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s executive order eliminating education funding for 85 towns — is not an option, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said.
“Our caucus told us to work as hard as we can to make sure Oct. 1 doesn’t happen,” said Aresimowicz, a Democrat representing Berlin.
That’s “when what we believe is the totally, cataclysmically largest, worst” possible scenario is expected to happen, Aresimowicz said. He said if Malloy’s executive order is allowed to go into effect from legislative inaction, then it will change public education in the state and harm Connecticut’s school children.
Aresimowicz said they intend to vote on a budget next Thursday, Sept. 14.
In order to do that, he needs the permission of Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven. Aresimowicz said he’s close to reaching an understanding with Looney regarding the scheduling of a budget vote.
What the final budget and implementer bills will look like will be determined partly by who is sitting across the table from Democratic leaders. Will it be the Democratic governor or Republican legislative leaders?
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said the caucus feels that the governor is moving.
Malloy is expected to release some budget revisions Thursday.
“We’re not dancing, but we’re probably in the same ballroom,” Ritter said, describing where things stand with the governor.
Aresimowicz said if Oct. 1 arrives without a budget and Malloy’s executive order becomes a reality, then “there’s no political party that owns it. We’re all in it.”
Aresimowicz repeated: “If Oct. 1 happens without us taking some sort of step to avert it, we all share the blame.”
Ritter said there’s something powerful about being on the floor and having to take a vote.
“There’s something cathartic and important about getting in the room and doing it,” Ritter said.
Just like with the labor concession package, Ritter said. Sometimes it needs to be put to a vote to see whether the votes are really there.
Three members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate were on the fence about the labor deal, but ended up voting in favor of it.
Aresimowicz said preserving public education in the state of Connecticut is the most important thing to lawmakers at the moment. He refrained from offering any predictions.