HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy followed through Tuesday with a promised veto of the restoration of funds for the Medicare Savings Program.
In a brief veto message issued after 5 p.m. Malloy said the legislature did nothing to resolve the issue by restoring funding to help pay Medicare Part B benefits for more than 100,000 residents.
“The bipartisan budget changes adopted to fund the Medicare Savings Plan are wishful thinking, double-counting, and pushing problems off into the future,” Malloy wrote in his veto message. “The bill has essentially done nothing to the state’s budget operation in order to fund restoration of the Medicare Savings Plan by either adding new revenue or reducing state spending levels.”
It likely won’t matter.
The General Assembly passed the measure with veto proof majorities on Jan. 8. The House voted 130-3 and the Senate voted 32-1 and legislative leaders have expressed an interest in overriding the veto even though Malloy has extended the current benefit levels until July 1.
“It is unsurprising, but unfortunate, that the governor has added to the angst of more than 100,000 Connecticut seniors and disabled with this veto,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said. “On the one hand, the governor blocks statutory assurance that these most at-risk people will receive the benefits they rely upon. Then he declares that some who receive Medicaid have no requirement to seek employment if they are able. 2018 promises to be a interesting year in Hartford.”
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said the governor’s veto was not unexpected.
“The bottom line is that the thousands of affected residents can rest assure that they will continue to have access to the Medicare Savings Program through the current fiscal year,” he added.
In footnotes in his veto message, Malloy said he objected to the legislation because it increased the deficit in 2019 by canceling the transfer of funds from this fiscal year. He said it double counted the $19.4 million in savings to the teachers’ pension fund.
Malloy also doubted their ability to achieve another $10 million in savings from the “other expenses” account on top of the $20 million he’s already withheld from those accounts. In addition, he didn’t believe they would be able to get the $6 million by stopping the managerial refills at certain agencies and the $1.3 million in consolidating human resource functions.
Legislative leaders are expected to take restoration of the benefits for these 113,000 elderly and disabled residents into consideration as they negotiate a deficit mitigation plan in earnest.
They had delayed talks until they were able to get a better handle on revenues, which were released Tuesday afternoon.