Instead of addressing a row of cameras and reporters as they exited from five hours of talks, legislative leaders released a joint statement.
“Today was a positive meeting with very serious negotiations and productive discussion,” said the statement from Senate President Martin Looney, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, Senate Republican President Len Fasano, and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides. “We are making progress and plan to continue efforts to work together. Staff work and discussions will continue over the weekend.”
Connecticut is the only state that has yet to pass a budget for fiscal year 2018. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has been operating the state under an executive order since July 1.
On Thursday, Malloy said the two sides were “hundreds of millions of dollars” apart.
That’s because the Republican budget that passed with the help of eight Democratic legislators and which Malloy vetoed was different in many ways from the Democratic budget.
It cut funding for higher education more deeply and it used savings from changes to an agreement with labor in 2027 to help balance fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
Malloy has told legislative leaders that they need to reach an agreement by Oct. 13, if they want a budget in place before Nov. 1.
He also warned that negotiations with companies looking to expand in Connecticut or to relocate here are on hold because the state doesn’t have a budget.
Kelly Donnelly, a spokeswoman for Malloy, said they view Friday’s discussions as an “encouraging sign.”
“Time is of the essence and a compromise must be reached in the very near future,” Donnelly said. “Should a balanced agreement not be reached, surely, it is the people of our state who will suffer the most. And to be clear, adopting a status quo budget — one that falls short of delivering real structural reform or one that is riddled with gimmicks and wishful thinking — would be as equally damaging.”
Legislative staff is expected to work through the holiday weekend on reaching a bipartisan budget deal.