HARTFORD, CT — Democratic legislative leaders made a decision Sunday to negotiate a final two-year budget deal with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy when they invited him to the state Capitol for a meeting.
Republican legislative leaders said they were not invited to the meeting and only learned about it through the news media.
Another meeting with Republican legislative leaders scheduled for Monday at 12:30 p.m. was essentially canceled when it became clear Democrats were headed for a partisan budget for an 11th year.
Democratic leaders in the split Senate issued a press release late Monday evening accusing Republicans of “walking away” and ending bipartisan budget negotiations.
“We have always suspected that legislative Republicans would find some excuse to walk out on bipartisan budget talks, we just didn’t know exactly how and when that would occur,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, today, our Republican colleagues chose the easy path of political posturing over the more difficult path of making painful but necessary public policy change.”
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, fired back at the accusation.
“Democrats once again are incapable of telling the people of Connecticut the truth about budget negotiations,” Fasano said. “Their fiscal death grip on this state has choked the life out of Connecticut’s economy, hurt the poor, starved municipalities, and continued to wreak havoc on taxpayers. In light of their absolute and non-wavering rejection of any meaningful structural changes for the state of Connecticut, they did not show up for their 12:30 p.m. meeting today. To use their tagline ‘Republicans Walked Out Again’ is simply a lie.”
In an interview with WTIC, Fasano said Democrats never wanted a bipartisan budget deal.
He said they just wanted to make it seem like bipartisanship was happening so they could “maybe steal some of our ideas.”
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said they would be incorporating some Republican ideas into the budget even if they don’t expect it to get any Republican votes.
“Look, we’re going to include some of their ideas because it’s the right thing to do, not because we’re going to be relying on their votes to pass it,” Aresimowicz said.
As far as the exchange between Republican and Democrats Monday, Aresimowicz said that “by acting as though talks with the Governor was news to them, and then not producing a counter offer to our ongoing negotiations, it has to bring into question the Republican sincerity in participating in good faith talks that would lead to support for a final budget.”
Malloy’s controversial proposal to change who pays for teacher pension costs is also still part of the proposal, even though implementation may get pushed off until a later date. If they opt for a later date, which is possible according to sources, that would create another budget gap they need to fill with revenue or spending cuts.
Republicans will be releasing their latest budget proposal to the public at 2 p.m. today.
Democratic legislative leaders and Malloy’s staff are still working on balancing their proposal, and they are also looking at finding the votes. They need 76 votes in the House and 19 in the Senate to pass it. There are 79 Democrats in the House and 18 in the Senate. In the event of a tie in the Senate, Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman is the deciding vote.
As of Monday night, Democratic legislative leaders were still working on closing a budget gap created by the decision to scrap a plan for a broad-based sales tax hike. They were also working on what they believe is an equitable distribution of municipal aid and education funds.
A final product, which includes all the implementation language and policy changes, is expected to be called for a vote on Thursday, Sept.14.
Democratic legislative leaders remain confident that will happen. However, without a final product it’s difficult to count the votes and determine if there’s enough support.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Part of the original headline of this story has been changed from “Dems Strike A Deal With Malloy” to “Dems Dealing Directly With Malloy.”