Last-Minute Budget Negotiations Underway at State Capitol

Connecticut lawmakers are reaching the end of another legislative session and another year of last-minute budget negotiations.

Last year’s budget standoff lasted nearly five months. This time, lawmakers have to fill a nearly $400 million budget hole and come up with some kind of spending plan for the next year. It appears Republicans were digging in their heels, demanding a vote on their own budget very soon. But there are no votes for that Republican budget in the House, making it dead on arrival.

Time is running short to finish the budget. The General Assembly faces a midnight deadline on Wednesday.

Democrats warn that Gov. Dannel Malloy will just want to cut without one.

"We’re so tough and our budgets are so smart and there's 27 pages and it’s fully vetted and the governor runs the state of Connecticut. Good luck to your town,” said Rep. Matt Ritter (D-Hartford), the majority leader.

“I think there are enough people in this state that are sick and tired of the same old same old of what’s been going on and the Democrats have been in control for 40 years and there’s a Democrat governor,” said Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby), the minority leader.

The messaging here has been very different from Republicans and Democrats. Democrats want a bipartisan deal and that’s all they want to talk about, while Republicans are saying they want to vote on their own budget. That kind of stiff divide makes a budget impasse more likely.

The governor weighed in Tuesday night, expressing dislike for the Republican plan.

"I think we need to leave the rainy day fund largely intact. I understand people want to spend money but we're ten years into a recovery that normally lasts seven and a half years," Malloy said.

Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said Democratic and Republican legislative leaders have had "fruitful" budget talks and now have "a structure for an agreement" on what changes need to be made to the second year of the two-year $41.3 billion bipartisan budget they approved last year.

Legislative leaders are hoping to avoid having to return to the state Capitol for a special session in order to pass a revised budget plan before the state's new fiscal year begins on Jan. 1.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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