CT's Top Democrats Spar Over Budget Options

Just a day after Connecticut's House Speaker described the budget that Gov. Dannel Malloy presented last week as a "hit list", he stood by his comments Tuesday. He even decided not to attend a meeting with Republicans to discuss steps forward on the budget.

“I think it’s clear that what the governor presented last week was a nonstarter" Rep. Brendan Sharkey, (D - Hamden), told reporters outside the House of Representatives.

When asked about Sharkey's comments, Malloy responded with an atypical conciliatory tone, said, “I just think he had a bad day, honestly.”

The House Speaker insists his comments to the CT Mirror were not reflective of a sour 24 period.

The issues stem from the governor's budget released last week that would end the 2017 fiscal year in balance, as a result of cuts, layoffs, and fund transfers totalling more than $900 million.

The cuts would hit just about all of state government. Everything from hospital payments, dental care for children, to developmental services would see reductions. The budget also includes steep cuts to cities and towns, and school districts in Southwestern Connecticut.

“It felt like a sort of a poke in the eye to both the House and Senate Democrats and Republicans and wasn’t really the basis for a negotiation going forward" Sharkey said.

Malloy defended his budget, by saying he's the only person in the State Capitol who's presented a balanced budget twice since February. The governor said a special session this summer would become a certainty if the legislature and his office can't find middle ground.

“I don’t have a magic wand, right? I can’t make people do their jobs. But I can make it uncomfortable not to do their jobs and that means being here all summer if that’s what it means.”

The governor said he won't sign any budget that raises taxes or borrows money. He also set a condition that it has to be balanced but Connecticut laws mandate a balanced spending plan.

Democrats on the Appropriations Committee approved a budget that only cut just more than $500 million when nonpartisan estimates show the state has a more than $900 million deficit.

Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, (D - Berlin), defended that approach saying, “So we walk out more state employees, we cut municipal funding, we cut social service programs and then a week later, wait, we have more money that we thought, rehire those workers, reconstitute those programs, I don’t think that’s the direction we want to go.”

Republicans did honor their meeting with Malloy and emerged having discussed paths forward but they wouldn't endorse the governor's budget for similar reasons as House and Senate Democrats.

Sen. Len Fasano, (R - North Haven), the Minority Leader in the Senate, said the commentary on the budget isn't good for the process.

“You don’t need to have that kind of rhetoric in this building. I mean, come on," Fasano said.

He added, “There’s a number of reasons why we can’t support it but that doesn’t mean you don’t bring ideas to the table and say, ‘hey, what do you think, how about this, how about that,’ and ultimately we may not even come to an agreement with the governor or whoever is at the table.”

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