HARTFORD, CT — Local elected officials from small towns across Connecticut are urging the General Assembly to override Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget veto because they say the executive order will have dire consequences for their communities.
Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi told reporters that the situation is “serious” and they’re not in Hartford to “whine” or “complain about being cut.”
He said the state may be a mess, but “why pass it down to municipalities?”
Marconi said municipalities are not required, according to the 2008 bond covenant for the teacher’s retirement system to “fund this obligation,” and sue the state if they pass a budget that tries to do that.
It’s part of the reason they appreciated the budget passed by Republicans and eight Democratic legislators because it didn’t shift any of the cost of teacher pensions to municipalities.
Malloy vetoed that budget earlier in the day Thursday.
Marconi, a Democrat, said the budget that passed was not a “Republican budget.” He said it was simply a budget and “for god’s sake don’t send us into this death spiral.”
He said the Wall Street rating agencies are just waiting to downgrade municipal debt in the absence of a state budget.
“We passed our budgets in May and June,” Marconi said. “This veto only furthers the delay.”
The executive order as it currently exists would eliminate state education funding for 85 communities and reduce funding to another 54.
But Malloy said municipal leaders are setting up a false choice between the Republican budget that he vetoed Thursday and the executive order.
“The executive orders are not a budget,” Malloy said. “They are the temporary steps that we take to make sure the state doesn’t spend money that it can reasonably predict it will take in.”
He said it’s not an “optimal” situation.
He said he’s not advocating for the executive order, but it’s necessary to protect the state and its communities in the absence of a budget. He said he’s advocating for a budget he can sign even though that hasn’t happened yet.
After several hours of negotiations Democratic and Republican legislative leaders emerged from negotiations in Malloy’s Capitol office, but were unable to report on any substantial progress that was made. They plan to meet again on Monday and it was still unclear Thursday evening whether they would convene on Friday to take action on the hospital tax.
Malloy said in order to go to sleep at night he has to believe “there are enough people in this building to put a budget together. In the absence of that we’re doing great damage to the state.”
Malloy said he doubts the General Assembly could find the votes for a veto override.
Litchfield First Selectman Leo Paul said they need to sit down and negotiate a budget that doesn’t “zero out” education funding for 85 communities.
Paul said the Council of Small Towns is a neutral organization and they felt it was important to urge them to come up with a compromise sooner rather than later.
That being said it’s Sept. 28. That’s 90 days the state has been operating without a budget.
Without any budget deal on the horizon, North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda said they are looking at a supplementary tax bill, a “decimation of services” at the municipal level and a reduction in education funding or borrowing from the rainy day fund, which will likely lower the bond rating.
“We don’t have very much time beyond the third or fourth week of October before one of those three major decisions has to be made,” Freda said.