Malloy Veto Leads to Cuts for Cities and Towns

Following inaction in the Connecticut House of Representative on the governor's priority criminal justice reform, he used the power of the veto to balance the state budget.

The budget was based on the passage of the criminal justice reform known as Second Chance. Eliminating bail for misdemeanors was thought to be a compromise on the bill but Democrats told Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey they didn't feel comfortable voting on it.

The measure included $15 million to $20 million in annual savings based on the closure of a prison, and without the bill being passed and the governor signing it, the governor said he felt he had to take action.

With the move, cities and towns across Connecticut are bracing for impact. They're not sure which state-funded programs the cuts will come from.

“I know the governor is in a tight spot," said Mayor Robert Chatfield, a Republican from Prospect. "We’re all concerned about our own but the buck stops here to speak and we’ve got to try to find out where we’re going to get the money. We’re getting ready to set our mil rates and it’s very difficult for us.”

Cities and towns' primary sources of revenues are state aid and property tax collections.

Chatfield said he will have to examine the possibility of a tax increase to maintain current services.

“I’m going through line item by line item by line item in last year’s revenue sheet to see if I can pick up a little, say from library fines or whatever lines I have to make up the difference,” Chatfield said. 

Kevin Maloney, spokesman for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities that lobbies on behalf of cities and towns in the state, wrote in a statement that such cuts are difficult for them to handle because of the timing:

“The vast majority of towns and cities have already set their municipal budget for FY 2016-17, so this cut – which is unspecified at this point regarding the amount town by town and from which state grant -- will especially force local governments to freeze or curtail spending for critical services during the new fiscal year and/or further drain municipal fund balances, which in distressed communities are already dangerously low."

A source in Malloy's office told NBC Connecticut to expect greater detail on the veto next week.

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