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Republicans Pitch Budget Cuts, Details Get Leaked

by | Nov 12, 2015 5:59pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Courts, Education, Health Care, Jobs, Law Enforcement, Labor, Public Safety, State Budget, Special Session, Taxes, Bethany, Enfield

Christine Stuart photo Details of Thursday’s budget negotiations between Republicans, Democrats, and the Malloy administration were supposed to remain private, but within a short period of time details of the plans proposed by the Republicans and the Malloy administration were leaked to the CT Mirror.

The Malloy administration and Republican legislative spokesmen denied leaking the documents, but the Republicans suggested that mischaracterizations of their proposal in the Mirror’s story didn’t come from them.

By the end of the day and after an FOI request for the documents was filed by CTNewsJunkie, the Malloy administration released their 36-page plan for spending cuts. The Republicans said they will release their proposed cuts at a 10 a.m. news conference Friday.

Republican officials said their proposal will reduce spending by about $370 million, but they declined to say Thursday exactly where they planned to cut. Malloy’s proposal calls for about $330 million in reductions and would order the closure of the State Police Barracks in Bethany, two courthouses in Bristol and Meriden, and the Enfield Correctional Institution.

Additionally, Malloy’s proposal includes the following:

• cuts to labor programs and museums;

• cuts to mental health grants and substance abuse treatment services;

• a 5 percent reduction in various Education Department accounts;

• additional cuts for state colleges and the University of Connecticut, and;

• an additional $16.5 million recession of funding that had been originally set aside for hospitals.

There were more than two dozen officials and staffers in the room Thursday morning and the stakes are high.

Thursday was the first time since 2012 that Democrats, Republicans, and Malloy have engaged in bipartisan deficit mitigation discussions.

Fasano and Klarides said they want the conversation about Connecticut’s budget shortfall to include not just ways to close the 2016 gap, but also restructuring the budget for the future.

“This is not about filling the hole with gum and different patchwork approaches to budgeting anymore,” Klarides said, adding that the Republican Party feels strongly that in order to help the state going forward, lawmakers can’t continue what they’ve been doing for the past few years.

“We have to make those changes,” Klarides said.

Fasano said they could be further ahead in these negotiations if Democrats had included Republicans in their budget discussions “in January, February, March, or April.”

But majority Democrats and Malloy excluded the Republicans for the fifth year in a row during regular session budget negotiations.

“They wanted to pass a budget based on what they wanted to do — not looking at facts,” Fasano said. “Had they had us in the room, I don’t think we would have been in the position we are in today because our ideas could have been out there and we could have talked about them.”

Christine Stuart photo While Democratic legislative leaders didn’t agree with Fasano’s analysis, they are also the only ones currently at the negotiating table who haven’t put forward a proposal.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said Democrats put forward a proposal to reduce the $103 million in rescissions Malloy made in September by cutting 2.5 percent off every line item in the budget.

However, it’s unclear exactly what impact those cuts would have on programs or the operations of state government. Some have suggested that across-the-board cuts would be detrimental to programs Democratic lawmakers traditionally want to protect.

Malloy said he’s never seen any details of the legislative Democrats’ plan to cut 2.5 percent in spending.

Sharkey and Senate President Martin Looney declined to elaborate on the impact their proposal would have on specific services.

“Democrats are refining the proposal that we offered a few weeks ago,” Sharkey said before being whisked away by his staff. “And we’re going to refine that a little bit to reflect some of the new numbers we received and provide that to Republicans, as well as the governor’s office.”

Christine Stuart photo Malloy said he’s requested that Democratic legislative leaders complete the process and put forth a proposal. Then, they can all sit down and figure out where there’s agreement, he added.

“But Democrats have to put their formal offer on the table,” Malloy said.

Malloy said he believes he’s led each step of the way by first using his executive authority to rescind $103 million from the budget and then putting forward suggestions for how to cut an additional $220 million. Meanwhile, Democratic legislative leaders and Republican legislative leaders want to restore some of the $103 million in cuts to hospitals and social services.

Malloy said he’s not surprised by the latest revenue estimates that show revenue falling $402 million short of projections in 2017.

“It all gets reported as a crisis,” Malloy said. “This is not a crisis.”

Malloy said he expects the budget issues to be resolved before Christmas.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The original version of the downloadable pdf document detailing the governor’s proposed cuts was missing the final page. The complete 36-page document is now available.

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Comments

(8) Archived Comments

posted by: ocoandasoc | November 12, 2015  6:47pm

“Malloy said ‘This is not a crisis.’”
Tell that to the folks who will lose their jobs, opportunities, or services they rely on as the cuts are made in education, hospitals, and mental health and substance abuse problems.
And remember folks, there’ll be a lot more cuts in the future. And tax increases.
But continue to enjoy your busway, stadium, failing schools and crumbling infrastructure, comforted by the knowledge that you live in the wealthiest state in the nation and that your tax-paid State and municipal workers have about the highest pay and best pension and healthcare benefits in the country.

posted by: Fisherman | November 12, 2015  9:50pm

Malloy’s proposed cuts are largely a Red Herring…stuff no one would cut.

Count on the Republicans to get’erdone. The citizens are waiting to see some real spending cuts!

posted by: Noteworthy | November 12, 2015  10:22pm

This is a crisis - a chronic financial one. It’s also a crisis in our confidence in state government leaders. Any nitwit with half a brain knew this budget had major problems when it was passed. It’s just disappointing that from Malloy to Sharkey and Looney and all those Democrats who stuck to party line voting and approved this mess, tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the people they purport to represent.

posted by: travelling medicine dog | November 13, 2015  12:26am

Both parties are in survival mode Clinging to the electorate margins. The brave new world of pension funding priorities has eclipsed the needs of the mentally ill, sick and the poor.  this will be the long slow descent into budget cannibalism.

posted by: artythesmarty | November 13, 2015  10:41am

I hope nobody from GE or a state that wants GE to move to it gets this information.  Lets keep it quiet.

posted by: Independent | November 13, 2015  10:49am

Based on what I can tell, Malloy’s plan seems to be more of the same: cut funding for the State’s most vulnerable citizens and education.  That doesn’t seem like an effective long-term strategy to me.  Most of us reading this article understand where the real savings need to come from in order to achieve a sustainable long term budget and growth strategy.  I know that’s difficult to do since it would need to be negotiated, but it absolutely has to happen.

posted by: artythesmarty | November 13, 2015  3:05pm

Lets make sure the GE people dont read this(ha).  They will use this as the last straw!  I hope not as I live close to GE but it is scary

posted by: Social Butterfly | November 14, 2015  10:16am

Politicians tell lies until they are caught. Malloy is a red herring nabbed in a net of lies. It’s too bad we can’t throw him back. Unfortunately we elected and invited him to stay a while. Now he is budgeting us to death.

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