Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — Legislative leaders don’t have enough members available to hold a special session to restore $54 million to the Medicare Savings Program before 2018, so they will likely act on it the first week of the new year.

After a two-hour meeting in Senate President Martin Looney’s capitol office Tuesday, legislative leaders said they’re close to finding the $54 million they need to offset the funding for the program, which will help 113,000 elderly and disabled individuals continue to receive the benefits of the program.

Legislators talk about special session

Posted by on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

“We are ready to address the cuts,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said. “We have a tentative agreement on that but we obviously have to talk to our caucuses.”

The group has been looking at reducing overtime in order to save money, but they were told by nonpartisan budget analysts that it would be problematic. Klarides said there’s no reason to share information about where the $54 million would come from with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration.

“He made it clear he doesn’t want to go into session to fix MSP so clearly we’re on our own,” Klarides said.

As far as delaying the vote until 2018, Klarides said it’s Christmas week and there are lawmakers away who want to vote on the issue, but are not available.

A small number of lawmakers will have to reconvene possibly on Dec. 29 to extend the special session to either Jan. 4 or Jan. 5, which are two tentative dates.

In the meantime, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle would continue to meet to discuss the $208 million state budget deficit in the future.

Malloy has been critical of legislators for recovening to put spending back in the state budget, while avoiding the deficit.

“To be clear – we think the best option is for the legislature to come in and address the full deficit, including the very real problems facing our Special Transportation Fund that will put projects throughout the state at risk,” Kelly Donnelly, a spokeswoman for Malloy, said. “If they choose to only address Medicare eligibility, we urge them to pay for those changes with real spending cuts – not vague, undefined, or flat-out unachievable savings that will only drive up the deficit.”

Klarides said they’ve all been working on the deficit, but “we need to go in and fix the Medicare Savings Program first.”