HARTFORD, CT — Friday is looking like another showdown between the legislature’s Democrats and Republicans who are split on how to proceed with budget negotiations in an election year.
After blaming more than a handful of snow days for their inability to complete a budget on time Democrats and Republicans still disagree about how to move forward and whether there should be a vote on an Appropriations Committee package. If they don’t vote on a spending package, it will be the second year in a row that they have failed to do so on time.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said Republicans went forward and developed their own budget and Democrats have their own budget, but “I don’t think it’s necessary to vote them out of committee.”
He said the purpose of going through the exercise was to have a starting point for negotiations.
“We anticipate that the Republicans and Democrats will each present their budgets for votes tomorrow in the Appropriations Committee and I anticipate that each document will serve as the basis for bipartisan negotiations,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said.
However, House Deputy Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said that by bypassing the Appropriations Committee they are denying all of those lawmakers who worked on the spending package an opportunity to vote.
“I don’t support automatically sending this budget to leadership for deliberation,” Candelora said.
He said he wasn’t the one who sat through hours of testimony on specific proposals.
“I want to hear from them,” Candelora said of his colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, where Democrats hold a one vote majority.
Candelora called it an intentional circumvention of the committee process, whereas last year they brought it before the Appropriations Committee and just didn’t have the votes to move it forward.
He said if the Appropriations Committee can come up with a consensus document, that would be helpful.
The three chairs of the Appropriations Committee, under the joint rules, will ultimately decide if there is a meeting Friday. At the moment, the bulletin says the Appropriations Committee will meet at 11 a.m. Friday, but no agenda has been posted.
The legislature exempts itself from open meeting laws so it doesn’t need to post an agenda 24 hours in advance of a meeting.
Meanwhile, the news since the April 17 tax filing deadline has been good for Connecticut.
If nothing changes, the amount of money headed to the Rainy Day Fund would be $915 million. That’s in addition to the $212 million that’s already there, creating a surplus of about $1.12 billion. But that number is likely to fluctuate as the money continues to be counted by the Department of Revenue Services.
Aresimowicz said legislative leaders agreed last year that if they saw an influx in revenue that “it would not be a spending spree.” He said they agreed to use that money to pay down long-term debt or make strategic investments in the state of Connecticut.
As part of the bipartisan budget they approved in October, lawmakers agreed to adopted what’s called a “volatility cap” that prohibits the state from spending any income tax receipts in excess of $3.1 billion per year.
Aresimowicz said they could vote to spend some of the money above the $3.1 billion.
Last year, they learned they would receive about $665 million more than expected in income due to some federal tax changes. But that money —
under the volatility cap — should be deposited in the Rainy Day Fund.
“The volatility cap was designed so we’re just not spending it, we’re making investments,” Aresimowicz said.
He said the “state of Connecticut has to have a strategic plan and we need to figure out what we want to be when we grow up.”
The budget discussion is in the last 10-minutes of the video.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, Rep. Robyn Porter, and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter talk about pay equity and the state budget process.
Posted by CTNewsJunkie.com on Thursday, April 19, 2018