No budget, no meeting. On Friday Governor Malloy made it clear that until there's at least a draft of the bipartisan agreement made earlier this week, it just doesn't make sense to meet with legislative leaders to discuss it.
On Thursday lawmakers had said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven) and Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington) would meet with the governor on Saturday to discuss the budget proposal.
"I assumed that we were going to go over an actual budget document. I assumed that since they were having an announcement of a budget that they had prepared documents," said Malloy.
He went on to say, "I know the Democratic leaders still intend to meet and hear my thoughts. I assure you I want to have a meeting as well, and we will have a meeting. But obviously I can't give feedback on a budget I haven't seen and reviewed."
Lawmakers say they have a framework and that a draft will quickly follow. On Thursday, House leaders caucused with members to go over the details. They're pushing for a budget vote next week.
Today Speaker Aresimowicz released a statement saying, "I always appreciate the Governor’s input, and a number of his ideas are part of the bipartisan budget that is being finalized. I look forward to meeting with the Governor soon to share details of the agreement, and hopefully secure his support. I also expect to have an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the House next week."
Senator Looney also released a statement regarding the governor's comments saying, "Legislative leaders are continuing to flesh out the final details of the bipartisan budget agreement reached in principle earlier this week. Once these details of the fully balanced bipartisan budget that represents consensus in the General Assembly are settled, we will share them with our caucus and the governor."
At this time it's unknown how close lawmakers are to a veto-proof majority.
The governor appeared skeptical of the bipartisan budget agreement and raised questions regarding the few things that lawmakers have said are in the proposal.
"We've been told poor towns are getting more aid, but how much? Is it enough to begin addressing the massive inequities in education between wealthy and less affluent towns?" Malloy asked. "We can't repeat the mistakes of the past that got us here. We can't rely on short-sighted gimmicks that only make our problems worse in the coming years. Those are the things I'll be watching for when I get a full budget."
Malloy also called the proposed $130 million cuts to UConn over two years "pretty outrageous" and questioned the sudden news of a plan to eliminate the car tax in year two.
"There is some truth that it is the hardest tax to collect. It's the biggest default factor in tax collection, but it represents largely somewhere between six to ten percent of any municipality's revenue. Are there other ways to collect that revenue? I suppose there are, but in the context of this budget it seems to be an unusual discussion to have in the final hour," said Malloy.
Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released a statement in response to the governor's press conference saying, "This is Governor Malloy’s third press conference in a row where he has absolutely nothing helpful to say. This is an irrelevant leader trying to make himself relevant. Instead of being open to a truly bipartisan budget that leaders have worked on day after day together as equals, he continues to make himself an impediment. Governor Malloy has already said that if the state doesn’t adopt a budget, businesses will leave, employers won’t come here, and job losses will grow even more than they already have. If that’s true the governor should be as supportive as possible of lawmakers’ efforts to pass this budget. Instead he appears comfortable sitting on the sidelines lobbing insults and getting nothing done."
Governor Malloy says what he's asking for is not unreasonable. He says he's never invited a legislative leader to negotiate a budget when there wasn't a draft to put in front of them.
"How can you tell what's acceptable if you don't have the whole budget? If you're going to make compromises then you want to know what you're compromising on," said Malloy.