The two-year, $43 billion spending package unveiled by the Connecticut General Assembly Appropriations Committee delivers on priorities for both the governor and House and Senate Democrats.
The package increases spending for education at all levels, including honoring the formula crafted by both Republicans and Democrats in 2017 to pay for Educational Cost Sharing, which is how money is distributed to cities and towns.
There is more money in the budget for both University of Connecticut and the Board of Regents, though in the case of the State Colleges and University System, likely not enough to fend off tuition increases.
The budget also includes new funding for workforce development and to hire two new classes of state troopers.
The Connecticut State Police are considered at full staffing with about 1,200 troopers, but currently the force is only at about 900.
Sen. Cathy Osten, (D – Sprague), one of the two Appropriations Committee chairs, described the budget as responsible for where money is being directed, but also said because it doesn’t increase spending at a high rate, it makes it fiscally sound.
"Our budget growth is 1.9 percent,” she said. “.3 percent were non-fixed costs and the rest were in fixed costs."
Those fixed costs are in the areas of costs for healthcare for current and retired state employees and teachers, and for pensions.
The issue of pensions is one of the most critical this fiscal year. Gov. Ned Lamont proposed shifting hundreds of millions of dollars in teacher pension payments from the state to the cities and towns who actually hire and employ those educators.
Multiple sources told NBC Connecticut that Democratic lawmakers had thought they had agreed that the budget would reflect a shift of payments to municipalities, but the budget voted on and approved by the Appropriations Committee, did not include it.
"Quite frankly, on the reamortization, we're on board with the governor and in regard to the rolling out some of the cost to municipalities,” Osten said. “We believe that we should consider that and that there was an error in the budget document regarding that piece."
That error is significant because it was not approved in the appropriations bill, and it’s possible the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee may need to include it in its own package of legislation expected Wednesday.
Osten insists it will be discussed with the Lamont administration.
"We planned on having that in the budget document that municipalities would have to contribute toward teacher pension," she said. “There was an error in the documents that we noticed this morning after they were already printed."
Republicans argue the budget presented is not balanced, and they say adding in funding to pay for issues like paid family leave and the minimum wage is the wrong direction.
"I'm not saying any of those things are bad in principle but they're expensive,” said Rep. Gail Lavielle, (R – Wilton), ranking member on the committee. “Why would you do it now when you really can't afford it."