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Legislative Leaders, Governor Meet To Discuss Budget Changes

by | Jun 19, 2015 12:32pm
() Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: State Budget, Special Session, Taxes

Christine Stuart photo

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Senate President Martin Looney leave Gov. Malloy’s office

Democratic legislative leaders met with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Friday to talk about how they plan to move forward with changes to the two-year, $40.3 billion budget.

Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said Malloy told him and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey that it’s his intention to sign the budget that passed as long as “these issues” are resolved in the budget implementation language.

The budget hasn’t reached the governor’s desk yet. Once it does he will have 15 days to sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

The General Assembly approved the budget by a small margin on June 3 and Malloy, responding to criticism from the business community, announced plans to change it. Last week, Malloy announced he wanted to restore about $223.5 million by eliminating some of the taxes large corporations objected to and finding an equal amount of spending cuts to get the budget to balance.

Since then nonprofits and human service providers have expressed concerns about what 1.5 percent in across-the-board cuts would mean for the populations they serve.

Malloy told lawmakers that they can give him the power to make those cuts, or they can make them.

The 1.5 percent in spending cuts, according to a draft document provided to CTNewsJunkie Tuesday by the governor’s budget office, show the cuts will fall the heaviest on the departments of Development Services, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Social Services, and state colleges and the University of Connecticut.

Christine Stuart photo

Sen. Beth Bye with staff in the cafeteria working on the budget

Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said she’s seen what 1.5 percent in spending cuts would mean. It would mean that on July 1, Malloy would essentially be able to cut 6.5 percent from line items in the budget because he already has the power to rescind up to 5 percent of any line item.

“The legislature should not give up its role to appropriate,” Bye said.

The governor has the authority to cut any line item up to 5 percent, but that authority doesn’t include cutting municipal aid without the legislature’s approval. But the additional rescissionary authority of 1.5 percent could include cuts to municipal aid, Malloy said last week. The draft documents released by Malloy’s budget office show that a 1.5 percent cut could mean the loss of about $3.13 million for municipalities that receive money from the state for tax-exempt properties. That’s just one example of what a cut in municipal spending could look like.

On Friday, Sharkey said the changes Malloy proposed last Friday will “not be the final word.”

“We’re producing an implementer with the governor that will get the votes necessary to pass,” Sharkey said.

He said at the moment there is no plan they can present to rank-and-file lawmakers next Tuesday when they caucus. He said they will provide background on a bunch of options and get feedback from the members. A group of 14 moderate Democrats met behind closed doors Thursday to talk about what changes they want to see made to the budget.

Sharkey said he would try to reach consensus on a final plan next week. There were 11 Democrats in the House who joined Republicans in voting against the budget, which passed after an all-night session on a 73-70 vote.

Looney said they’re going to look at spending cuts and “alternate revenues” to balance the budget, but offered no specifics.

The comment caught the attention of Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, who was not invited to the meeting.

“To hear that alternative revenue sources were put on the table today, in a closed door meeting between a handful of people, is honestly infuriating,” Fasano said in a statement. “... A back room discussion where a potential new revenue source is offered, and legislative leaders will not even share the idea? When will they tell the public and when will they tell Republicans?”

As he walked briskly out of his state Capitol office, Malloy described the meeting as “fruitful,” but offered no further details.

“I’m on my way to Waterbury. You can all come,” Malloy said.

In Waterbury, Malloy said he didn’t see the “historic changes” in the budget being dramatically altered.

The changes to the property tax structure and the decision to use a portion of the sales tax to fund transportation projects are being called “transformational” and “historic” by those who supported the budget.

“It’s a budget I support in its total,” Malloy said. “But I think it can be made better.”

He said he told legislative leaders he wants to sign the budget, but he needs implementation language that makes a few changes.

However, no matter what changes are made the bottom line will remain the same and that means in two years the budget is expected to be running a deficit again.

According to budget documents, the two-year budget approved by the General Assembly has the state running a deficit again in 2018 and 2019 of $663.9 million and $550.7 million, respectively.

Courtesy of OFA

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Comments

(10) Archived Comments

posted by: oliviahuxtable | June 19, 2015  1:59pm

ERIP.

posted by: Noteworthy | June 19, 2015  2:48pm

So Malloy supports the budget now, that he and his staff negotiated. It’s nice he finally owned up to it - and the two billion dollars it imposes including the taxes on the sick and maimed in the hospitals. Great. Run on that. Should be a great message. “Give me your sick, your injured, your pets and children - and I will tax them.”

posted by: art vandelay | June 19, 2015  5:53pm

art vandelay

As predicted the moderate/fiscally conservative Democrats were not included.
I hope they vote the implementation bill down when it comes to a vote.  This by far is second worst budget in Connecticut’s history.  The 1991 Income Tax budget can never be topped.

posted by: dano860 | June 19, 2015  9:54pm

If Dannel gets more letters or communications like this one ...

he may take a big swing at the things that are not the real root of the problem but they are the ones he can chop as they aren’t wed to the state by a contract or mandate.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | June 20, 2015  8:12am

It’s going to cost many of them their seats in the next election. Hard to believe the are so tone deaf.

ERIP in a couple years, Olivia.

HST

posted by: Greg | June 20, 2015  9:35am

HST:  “It’s going to cost many of them their seats in the next election.”

Yea, right.  Like that will ever happen.

posted by: SocialButterfly | June 20, 2015  1:49pm

@art vandelay:  Dannel Malloy is the all-time taxation governor in Connecticut’s history.  Lowell Weicker couldn’t light a candle to the total taxation that Malloy has imposed on state taxpayers’ and he is still taxing us to death with the iron-clad Democratic majority General Assembly at his disposal. The Dems’ are so arrogant that they will not allow any Republican participation in their closed-door budget discussions. Proof of the pudding that Democratic Socialist power has a strangle-hold on our state thanks to our errant voters who are ultimately responsible for our very bad state of fiscal affairs. The voting mentality of our state voters is in serious question. “They put all of our eggs in one basket” which has come back to haunt all Connecticut taxpayers’.

posted by: Jim in Mfg | June 20, 2015  5:31pm

No to ERIPs. 
There is no way taxpayers want to bribe state employees to retire. 
Just do Layoffs.
Start with Deputy Commissioners.

posted by: LE 2015 | June 22, 2015  4:16am

This budget will have a deficit. Business is working to avoid these stupid tax increases. We have no leaders.

posted by: watcherkat54 | June 22, 2015  11:03am

How come the Republicans aren’t offered a seat at the table.  They have some ideas. If Republicans were doing this to the liberals, holy heck would be surrounding the state and the democrat controlled press would be all over it.  Come on Looney, let the Republicans in the door.