Lawmakers Say They've Reached Budget Deal, Votes to Come

The state has not had a budget for two and a half months and lawmakers said they have reached a deal with Governor Dannel Malloy. 

Lawmakers will be voting on the nearly thousand-page bill either Thursday night or early Friday morning. 

"While we are finishing up the last few implementing languages, we have reached a budget agreement with the house and senate democrats and also the governor's office," Speaker of the House, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz said.

Democratic lawmakers who spent Wednesday at the State Capitol with Malloy said they are on the brink of a budget and believe they are close to having enough support in their own party to bring the latest version of the budget to a vote soon.

“The urgency of the present moment cannot be overstated. It is critical that a responsible budget is passed by the General Assembly, one that provides greater predictability and stability for the people and businesses of Connecticut. Local governments, community providers, parents, teachers and students – all of them are best served by passing a budget, and passing it now,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement.

The latest version of the budget does not appear to have the tax increases that Democrats had initially pushed for and that the governor said he would veto.

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter (D) said there will be “virtually no” tax increases; no sales tax increase, which could have gone from 6.35 percent to 6.5 percent; and no 75-cent tax on vaping products in the budget they bring to a vote.

He added that the city of Hartford will not have to file bankruptcy

“There will be no need to file bankruptcy. They will be able to pay their debts. They’ll be able to pay their legal obligations. There will be strings attached with that,” Ritter said. “They’re going to have a year to manage their finances to make changes, to work with an oversight board to see where they are.”

Lawmakers who met with the governor Wednesday said the negotiations are significant because striking a deal with Malloy is the only way to get a spending plan in place to avoid somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million in education cuts statewide, meaning there will be fewer Democrats, if any, voting no.

“The budget framework now being finalized by the General Assembly appears to be a balanced and responsible compromise. After finalizing an historic agreement with state employees to save tens of billions of dollars, this budget includes hundreds of millions of dollars in spending cuts, achieving balance without any increases to the sales or income tax rates. It would restore hundreds of millions in town aid, and also include a fair and transparent education funding formula that supports schools and students in communities across Connecticut – big and small. And, it would offer real structural reforms to put our state on better financial footing now and into the future,” Malloy said in a statement.

The state House of Representatives budget talks have been moved to this afternoon and the state Senate might not see the budget until midnight or later.

Republicans said they want the chance to present their own balanced budget today as well.

The budget they proposed earlier this week called for no new taxes and no tax increases and now they said they are being shut out of talks.

“To hold us ‘til 2, 3 o’clock in the morning is not a good thing for government. It’s not fair to the people in the state of Connecticut and it’s fundamentally wrong,” Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, said. “I think the reason why they’re doing this is to scare people into voting for their budget, which really is a false choice and a false narrative.”

If a budget is not passed by the end of the month, Malloy’s education funding cuts to 135 cities and towns go into effect in October.

It still remains to be seen exactly how lawmakers plan to fill a $3.5 million shortfall over the next two years.

Some of the burden to cover teacher pensions looks to be shifting to cities and towns. 

What’s in the final budget will not be clear until it comes to a vote.

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