HARTFORD, CT — Incoming House Speaker Matt Ritter isn’t making many big changes when it comes to Connecticut’s two budget-writing committees.
Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, will remain at the head of the Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Pat Billie Miller, D-Stamford, will remain the chair of the Bonding subcommittee.
Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, will take over as co-chairman of the Finance Committee as the previous chairman, Rep. Jason Rojas, has been promoted to House majority leader.
“Look folks, it’s not going to be a normal session,” Ritter said during a press conference outside the Connecticut Capitol Building. As lawmakers begin drafting the next two-year budget, the state will still be struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“The reality is, we’re still going to have a very different session in January, February, March and maybe through June. So I think it’s fair to all the chairs that they have an opportunity a little earlier than normal to make their mark, to have the meetings they need,” he said.
The state is facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit and consensus revenue figures are expected out later today, but Ritter and the rest of the House leadership team seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach.
Walker said they still don’t know how much money Connecticut will receive from the federal government.
“There’s a major opportunity, which is we’re going to get more money from Washington which is going to also have to be factored in,” Walker said.
Ritter said with $3.1 billion in the Rainy Day Fund, they’re not going to have to make as many budget adjustments as former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had to make when he took office in 2011.
Rojas said it’s their responsibility to explore all the various budget options, including legalizing marijuana and expanding sports gaming, but it’s hard to say what’s going to happen before April when the revenue numbers are calculated after tax day.
“It’s very premature of us to be talking about bad decisions we have to make,” Scanlon said. “Toni is right, people are hurting in Connecticut, but there’s also a moving stock market happening and those things, we have to marry them to find out what the difference is between those two things.”
Ritter said the budget process is a very long process and they won’t be making any of these hard decisions until April.
He expects to name chairs of the more than two dozen joint legislative committees and additional leadership positions over the next few weeks.