Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie file photo
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed a bill Thursday that would have changed how the state board overseeing Hartford’s finances would have operated.

The legislation, which received bipartisan support, would have modified the $534 million bailout lawmakers gave Hartford last year to help it avoid bankruptcy.

In his veto message, Malloy said the changes to the Hartford bailout are “a reflection of indignation on the part of some legislators,” who were upset that the Municipal Accountability Review Board “exercised its statutory authority in coming to the aid of our capital city.”

However, Malloy said it’s critical for the state to have “a viable mechanism in place to allow it to intervene in the case of other troubled municipalities in a way that is both effective and that holds those municipalities highly accountable.”

He said the Municipal Accountability Review Board works and there is no reason for the legislature to seek to change it at this point in time.

The bill Malloy vetoed would have required the continued financial support of Hartford for five years, but would allow the state to reduce other municipal aid to Hartford in the sixth year if the city failed to meet its obligations.

The legislation never changed the debt assistance deal signed by state Treasurer Denise Nappier and the administration that required the state to pay off the entire principal of Hartford’s bonded debt over the next 20 to 30 years. The state will make about $40 million in annual payments on the debt.

Before the budget deal last year the city was considering filing for bankruptcy. The state’s decision to pick up its debt through the Municipal Accountability Review Board has helped the city begin to rebalance its finances, but the city needs more time.

Republican lawmakers felt they should be allowed to lower other municipal aid to the city in order to account for the payments elsewhere in the budget, but the legislation Malloy vetoed sought to delay those types of decisions for at least five years.

“The legislature may elect to offset contract assistance to Hartford in the future, and must approve state aid amounts for all communities,” Malloy said. “But it makes little sense to make an out year reduction without giving the program the opportunity to see results before imposing what amounts to a sanction.”

Senate Republican President Len Fasano said the veto “demonstrates the governor’s arrogance and lack of respect for taxpayer dollars.”

“Once again, when it comes to support for the city of Hartford, Gov. Malloy completely dismisses the intent and the voice of the legislature,” Fasano added. “This veto practically ensures a rough road ahead for Hartford because absent this fix the legislature probably won’t be willing to help Hartford in the future. ”

Animal Abuse Registry

Malloy also vetoed a bill Thursday that would have created a registry of individuals convicted of animal abuse.

In his veto message, Malloy said the registry would encourage more plea bargaining to avoid registration.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opposed the legislation because it would have “costly unintended consequences and in fact leave animals more vulnerable to abuse,” Malloy said.

In two states with animal abuse registries there are few registrants. In Tennessee there are 14 and fewer than 20 in New York.

“Cruelty to animals is a serious issue and individuals found guilty of cruelty to animals should receive appropriate punishment,” Malloy wrote. “I do not believe that an animal abuse registry accomplishes this goal.”

As of Thursday, Malloy has signed 207 bills and vetoed seven. He allowed one to become law without his signature.

Legislators will hold a veto override session on Monday, June 25, to reconsider some of his vetoes. It’s unclear how many they will seek to override, but there are at least two that seem to have widespread support.