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Senate Passes Budget 19-17

by | May 3, 2011 2:12am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: State Budget

There wasn’t much Senate Republicans could do in order to change the destiny of the two-year, $40.11 billion budget adopted by the Senate Tuesday morning. But they tried offering 18 amendments, 17 of which were defeated along party lines and one that was ruled out of order.

The debate lasted for more than 11 hours until after 3:10 a.m., but in the end 19 Democratic Senators voted in favor and 3 Democratic Senators voted against. Sens. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, and Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury joined the 14 Republicans in voting against the budget proposal.

The budget, which Republican lawmakers said was pushed through the legislative process before anyone could figure out what’s in it, was heavily lobbied by several industries and special interests impacted by the $1.4 billion tax package. The tax package passed by the Senate Tuesday morning was about $100 million less than Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s original proposal, even though Republicans were quick to point out that it raises about $369 million in surplus funds in 2012 and $635 million in 2013.

Earlier in the day Monday, Republican lawmakers in a Finance Committee meeting said those surplus funds are evidence this budget “overtaxes” the people of Connecticut because it raises more revenue than the state needs.

“One of the problems that’s existed around here for a long time is we call something a surplus that’s not a surplus,“ Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, said Monday during a visit to the Capitol press room. “We don’t have a surplus this year, not if you use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.”

He said Malloy has asked that any surplus to be used to pay down debt, transition to GAAP, and help build up the Rainy Day fund.

The budget passed by the Senate Tuesday morning also doesn’t include the $2 billion Malloy plans on getting in labor union concessions. Language requiring the General Assembly to return if the Malloy isn’t successful in those negotiations was debated at length Monday and Tuesday by Senators.

Republicans offered more than 17 amendments, including its revised no-tax-increase alternative budget.

Sen. Robert Kane, R-Watertown, said he heard someone speaking in the hallway that this was a “meaningless debate.” He said he found the comment offensive. “I thought this was America and this is what we do, debate,” Kane said.

Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven, said the no-tax-increase alternative proposed by the Republicans shows how difficult it is to cut spending without having an impact on economic activity in the state.

Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, who has voted against his fair share of budgets said he voted in favor of the proposal because he likes the spending cuts, consolidations, and the fact the state isn’t borrowing or employing any gimmicks to balance it. He said it also fully funds the state’s pension obligations and asks labor to give back $2 billion.

“Love it or hate it, at least it’s free of gimmicks,” Duff said.

But Republican lawmakers said they were looking for more out of this budget and they were initially lead to believe they would have a seat at the table while the budget was being crafted.

However, the first Democratic governor in 20 years worked with the Democratic legislative majority in crafting a compromise to his budget. The two sides announced they struck a deal two weeks ago.

Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, pointed out that two months after the income tax was passed in 1991, tens of thousands of angry taxpayers rallied at the Capital once they starting seeing money coming out of their paychecks. He warned that this budget and the one-year, $1.4 billion tax package could draw similar attention from taxpayers.

The House is expected to vote on the budget later today.

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(3) Archived Comments

posted by: ... | May 3, 2011  2:36am

...

I was about to take bets on when that session was going to end (thinking they were going to see the sun rise).

I’m glad it was confirmed though that this budget surplus is being applied with non-GAAP accounting methods. Both sides of the aisle want this done, but yet it amazes me Republicans are going to try and argue a budget surplus off of accounting practices they abhor.

As for Markley’s remarks. I’m quite certain 2 billion in concession agreements or cuts could bring just as many people to capitol, if not more than the anti-tax crowd of 91’.

posted by: newview | May 3, 2011  4:55am

Well…I see the Senate refused to remove longevity payments to other than union state employees. 

They don’t really expect longevity payments to union employees a negotiated concession….do they??? Really?

Do as I say…not as I do..

sorry…it doesn’t work that way….  SEBAC should walk!!

posted by: Noteworthy | May 3, 2011  7:17am

Toni Harp’s comment about how difficult it is to cut spending is really emblematic of the mindset of people like her. They find it hard to cut spending and will now depend on all of us to cut our spending at home, to deny our children, to put off buying a car in order to feed the beast she and others of her ilk created, nurtured, fed and keep in the fat by the sweat of our brow. We didn’t ask Harp and other Democrat leaders to borrow $2 billion in the last two years. We asked for cuts in spending.

On this budget, we didn’t ask to maintain state government. We asked that it be cut, that it do what we all do in hard times. Harp promised cuts, real cuts. There are none. Overall spending actually increases in each of the next two years; taxes rise by $2.6 billion to pay for it. It’s that simple and it’s just that wrong.

As for surpluses not being surpluses - Oh No Ocho should get a grip on terminology especially as it applies to fiscal matters. Excess revenue is always a surplus. Always. If one chooses to use excess tax payments for the rainy day fund or other purposes, does not make it any less of a surplus. The bottom line is there is a billion in surplus in this budget. As for the mythical glory of GAAP - Malloy supports the weakest definition and implementation of GAAP as he knows and the CPAs of the state have called him out on it as well as his excessive spending. We are broke and nobody in Hartford who control votes gets it. Our leaders are stupid.

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