Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — The House joined the Senate Thursday in overwhelmingly passing the two-year $41.34 billion budget by a vote of 126-23.

Ten Democratic legislators and 13 Republican legislators voted against the package negotiated over several weeks by their leaders.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, announced immediately after the vote that the vote margin was a high enough to put into place the definition of a constitutional spending cap.

Connecticut voters told the General Assembly more than 26 years ago that they wanted a constitutional spending cap following the implementation of the first income tax in 1991. The General Assembly never followed through and adopted a definition, until today.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said the document is not perfect. However, the budget is the start for structural changes Republicans have sought for years.

“This budget includes a spending cap, a bonding cap, a revenue cap, municipal mandate reform that towns and cities beg for every day. It includes mandatory votes on union contracts,” Klarides said.

She said she would have preferred it if the House overrode the governor’s veto of the Republican budget that passed with the help of eight Democratic legislators in September. 

“But unfortunately we live in reality. That was not going to happen,” Klarides said.

She said the two choices after that were to continue the Draconian executive order that cut funding to municipalities or “sit in a room” and “torture ourselves to reach a compromise.” She chose the later.

Legislative leaders in House praise bipartisan budget.

Posted by on Thursday, October 26, 2017

Connecticut, now hold the distinction of being, the last state in the nation to approve a budget for fiscal year 2018.

One lobbyist joked that the long “national nightmare” was coming to an end with Thursday’s budget vote.

However, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has been running the state by executive order since July 1, has not said yet if he will veto it. So the budget drama may continue.

Following Thursday’s House vote, Malloy’s spokeswoman issued a statement to say the governor and his staff were still reviewing the document.

“We recognize that they believe that they have achieved this end and are now sending a budget to him for his consideration and we appreciate their work,” Kelly Donnelly, Malloy’s spokeswoman, said. “At the same time, it is incumbent on the governor and his administration to carefully review this budget – a complete document of nearly 900 pages that was made available only a few minutes before it was called on the floor.”

The Senate passed the budget 33-3 at 2 a.m. Thursday morning.

That means both chambers passed it by a veto-proof majority.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

“Staff will continue to analyze the bill, weighing its merits and faults, so that the governor can arrive at an informed and carefully considered decision regarding his support,” Donnelly said.

The lack of a budget has hindered job growth in the state. Over past three of the four months of the budget stalemate Connecticut has lost 7,900 jobs erasing most of the gains from earlier in the year.

However, with any compromise there’s a lot of good and bad.

Rep. Jay Case,R-Winchester, said they’ve had two chances to pass a bipartisan budget. One budget didn’t get an override after a gubernatorial veto and the one they approved on Thursday.

“We need to get a budget that moves the state forward,” Case said while admitting it’s not perfect.

Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, who voted against the budget, said she finds it hard to compromise on her morals.

“We don’t want to talk about revenue,” Porter said. “You can look at cuts without looking at revenue.”

She said when they’re talking about bipartisanship then it should be equal across the board.

“I’m not feeling a lot of equity in this budget right now,” Porter said.

She said this budget doesn’t help the working class as much as it benefits the wealthy.

Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden, said she’s not happy about a lot that’s in the budget, but it’s better than the governor’s executive order.