Senate Cleans Up Budget, Forwards It On To House
HARTFORD, CT — It only took a few minutes Tuesday for the Senate to unanimously approve adjustments to the bipartisan budget it passed in late October.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had used his line-item veto authority to identify problems with the budget language related to the hospital tax, precipitating the necessity for the General Assembly to return to the capitol to finalize the budget language.
The Senate, after caucusing for about an hour Tuesday, quickly approved the adjusted version of the budget on a 34-0 vote.
The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives for a vote Wednesday.
Two senators, Ted Kennedy Jr., D-Branford, and Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, were absent.
The bill, SB 1503, was introduced by Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, who said it had “minor and technical changes that had been agreed upon by all four caucuses and the administration.”
After Osten’s comments, no other Senator commented and the vote was taken immediately. It was over in a little more than a minute.
Malloy had vetoed part of the distribution of the money collected from the hospital tax because he felt the specific language included in the budget would have caused the federal government to reject the state’s request for additional federal reimbursement.
The bill approved Tuesday changes the language regarding the hospital provider tax and user fees on nursing homes.
There’s no guarantee that even with the new language the Senate approved Tuesday that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will approve the additional funds, but the administration believes it has a better shot.
Jennifer Jackson, CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association, said the hospitals are fine with the new language.
“We want to thank the state Senate for passing legislation that will benefit Connecticut communities, hospitals, and the patients they serve,” Jackson said. “We look forward to passage in the House and working with the administration to implement the measure.”
The agreement does not settle the lawsuit the Connecticut Hospital Association and 20 hospitals filed against the state back in 2016.
Legislative leaders said also modified language regarding the renter’s rebate program.
The previous version of the budget essentially stranded $13 million for the program with the state, at the same time as it made it the responsibility of municipalities to dole out. The money is supposed to help subsidize rent for elderly and disabled renters.
The language in the renters’ clause explains that it “returns the responsibility for administering the Renters’ Rebate Program to OPM (Office of Policy and Management) and creates a mechanism through which municipalities cover over 50 percent of the cost of rebates, up to $250,000 per municipality per year.”
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said the money is there in the budget and was always meant to be used for the program.
An analysis of the changes approved Tuesday by the Senate is available on the Connecticut General Assembly’s website.