HARTFORD, CT — Following passage of a two-year, $40.7 billion Republican budget, both parties sought to position themselves for what looks like continued partisan gridlock.
While vowing to return to the negotiating table today, both sides lobbied their positions over the weekend through a series of fundraising emails and statements.
The Connecticut Democratic Party, which saw eight of its own members vote in favor of the Republican budget proposal, released a statement calling the budget headed for a veto “unbalanced and unsustainable.”
“I want to make one thing very clear: We will support the Democrats who continue to demonstrate that they stand up for our party’s values, and I want to thank our legislative leaders and those in the legislature who made their voices heard over these past two days,” Connecticut Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto said Saturday. “I am proud that they made the hard choice to stand up for the future of our state.”
The Connecticut Working Families Party, which cross-endorses progressive Democratic candidates, immediately called for candidates to challenge the three Democratic Senators who bucked their own party and voted in favor of the Republican budget.
“Our State Senate is tied between Republicans and Democrats. But after today’s vote for the Republican anti-worker budget by State Senators Slossberg, Doyle, and Hartley, it’s clear that what we have is not a Democratic majority or a Republican majority, but a clear corporate majority,” Carlos Moreno, of the Working Families Party, said Friday. “Enough is enough.”
Republicans are calling passage of the budget “bipartisan” because it received support from Democratic lawmakers.
The Connecticut Republican Party and Republican gubernatorial candidates were quick to release statements calling for Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to sign the budget.
On Friday, following Senate passage, Malloy said he would veto it.
“I have consistently been in favor of reaching a sensible, realistic budget — one that is balanced honestly and that continues to make progress on Connecticut’s long-term fiscal challenges,” Malloy said Friday. “Those are not partisan goals, nor should they be. It’s why I began inviting all legislative leaders — Democrat and Republican — into my office last year, well before this session began. And it’s why I continued those meetings throughout the regular session.”
The Connecticut Republican Party used passage of the budget to position itself for the 2018 election.
“Bipartisan passage of the Republican budget this week was a big win for Connecticut’s taxpayers and a defeat of Governor Malloy’s big government policies,” Republican Party Chairman JR Romano, said. “It shows Republicans can lead our state.”
He said each year Republicans have been chipping away at the Democratic majority and each year over the past eight years they’ve made progress. They were able to pick up enough seats in the Senate to reach a historic tie, and came within more than a handful of seats in the House growing it from 37 seats in 2010 to 72 this year.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said before the vote Friday that “we’ve got to get serious and we’ve got to stop this silliness.”
He said they want to get in a room and come up with a deal. He said the Republicans weren’t ready to do that until the Democrats decided to negotiate with the governor, instead of Republican lawmakers.
“Now what ever happened, let’s turn the page,” Aresimowicz said.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said they can’t have a bipartisan budget until they “sit in a room and take their head out of the sand and acknowledge what the problems are.”
She said the need to fix the state of Connecticut over the long-term is necessary.
“Unless you want to change the state you’re not going to get a vote on the budget,” Klarides said.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis reported before the votes were cast on Friday and early Saturday that both the approved Republican budget and the Democratic proposal that was not approved will lead to deficits in the billions of dollars in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Malloy has been running the state by executive order since July 1.
On Oct. 1 the deal on the tax increase for Connecticut hospitals will expire without a budget because they won’t be able to get the increased federal reimbursement back to July 1. Also, cities and towns will need to make personnel and tax decisions that will impact almost every taxpayer in the state.
Last week had been the last time lawmakers were able to convene to vote on a budget. Scheduling conflicts and religious holidays will complicate what happens over the next several weeks. However, it’s not clear if any of those scheduling conflicts or vacation schedules changed following the vote.