There was very little reflection on the regular session of the Connecticut General Assembly in the day after it ended.
Governor Dannel Malloy has already turned his attention to approving a budget before June 30, when the state’s fiscal year ends.
He said in recent talks among staff and lawmakers, his optimism or finding common ground appears to be fading.
“I think it would be in all of our best interests to get a budget done,” Malloy said “We’re nowhere near that today.”
When asked whether he thinks Republicans will actually vote on a budget for the first time ten years, Malloy said, “Hope springs eternal.”
Republicans have a louder voice than they’ve had in decades when it comes to policy and budget discussions. They have had a firm seat during budget negotiations, and Rep. Themis Klarides, the top Republican in the House, said since Republicans have so much more influence, then their ideas need to be listened to.
“This is a crossroads, and we have to pick the right one. I’m concerned that it’s going to continue to be the wrong one,” she said.
One of the key differences between the governor’s budget proposal and the Republicans’, is the increased labor savings in the GOP budget. Republicans proposed negotiating for more concessions, or changing state laws to reduce wages and benefits in an effort to save taxpayers hundreds of millions.
Klarides said even though the proposal targets state workers, she said that’s one of the hard decisions leaders are expected to make.
“This is not being critical of union workers or state employees. All of us have many friends and I’m sure family who are state employees but we are at a crossroads. We are at a serious crossroads. If we don’t take the proper road then the state will be a in a worse position than it is now,” she said.
Democrats in the Connecticut House have been working with the governor and lawmakers across the aisle on a proposal, and are holding out hope for a bipartisan solution.
Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz said he’s going to do what it takes with a budget, incorporating popular GOP positions as a possibility, as a way to try to guarantee more than just Democratic votes.
He said Republicans shouldn’t shut themselves off from supporting a budget for the state of Connecticut.
Aresimowicz said, “I hope that doesn’t happen but I’m going to make it as hard as possible for them to vote no on a budget that goes up on the board.”