HARTFORD, CT — Legislative leaders continue to say they’ve been making significant progress in their closed-door budget discussions, but Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has his doubts and is getting impatient.
“We’ve done damage to Connecticut by not having a budget in place by June 30th,” Malloy said. “That is a legislative requirement and every day that goes on it gets worse.”
He said legislative leaders met for two-and-a-half hours Thursday and if that’s not going to get them a budget then “they need to step up the pace.”
Legislative leaders expressed confidence Thursday in the progress they were making, but they weren’t going to meet today.
They said they’ve informed their members to clear their calendars the week of Oct. 23.
There seemed to be consensus from legislative leaders as they headed off to have the discussions without the governor that there needed to be a deal in place before Oct. 13, Malloy said.
Where’s the urgency?
“We’re losing time,” Malloy said.
The governor warned that economic development deals with companies looking to expand or locate to the state have been put on hold in the absence of a state budget.
As the sand continues to slip through the hourglass, the changes they want to make to the budget are going to have less of an impact and the deficit they will have to close will begin to grow beyond $3.5 billion over the next two years.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis and the Office of Policy and Management have not increased deficit projections yet as a result of the stalemate, but it’s only a matter of time.
“This has got to be gotten done,” Malloy added.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said the leaders will continue to discuss the education cost sharing formula, a spending cap definition, and how to resolve payments for teacher pensions.
He said the Appropriations Committee co-chairs and ranking members will be getting together Friday to go over about 25 pages of the more than 900- to 1,000-page budget to go over line items where they are very close or very far apart.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said it’s an “incremental process” and there are things that are very important to various lawmakers in various parts of the state and there need to be modifications.
“It’s a painful process,” Klarides said.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said he knows it’s tough for the news media seeking specific information about the discussions. The problem is they may have reached an agreement among themselves, but “there are issues that are quite controversial in our caucuses.”
“We are not a majority of our caucuses,” Looney added.
Malloy said he’s made it clear that the damage gets worse the longer the state goes without a budget. However, he doesn’t get to decide how quickly legislative leaders can reach an agreement and call for a vote.
While he might not know everything going on during those discussions, Malloy is receiving some information from Democratic Senators who are in the room.
“It’s apparent that they remain hundreds of millions of dollars apart,” Malloy added.
A week ago town aid and shifting some of the teacher retirement costs to municipalities was part of the tension between legislative leaders and Malloy. The governor wanted to know if they’ve reached consensus on the issue.
He also wanted to know whether Democrats and Republicans have resolved their issues on higher education spending and underfunded pensions.
“If Republicans have moved on higher education, where’s the money going to come from? If there’s going to be a teacher’s tax, is it still going to pay the obligation into the general fund?” Malloy asked.
Aresimowicz said the past week has been the most rewarding of his political career. He said it’s restored his faith in the process.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said they feel they’re making headway and they understand each other.
And that makes Malloy’s comments “extremely unproductive,” Fasano said. “The governor has been nothing but an impediment to the budget process, and it has been helpful to remove him from our conversations. I appreciate and respect the efforts of Democrat legislative leaders who have been willing to work together in truly bipartisan negotiations and have thoughtful and productive policy discussions in recent days.”
Gov. Malloy speaks to reporters after Thursday’s budget meeting
Posted by CTNewsJunkie.com on Thursday, October 12, 2017