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Parties Break Up Over Budget Negotiations

Parties Break Up Over Budget Negotiations

CT News Junkie, May 3, 2018

By Christine Stuart

Democratic and Republican legislative leaders always had a strained relationship, but they’ve made their break up very clear of the past few days. On Tuesday, Democratic legislative leaders met privately for about 30-minutes with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was cut out of budget negotiations last year.

The meeting came hours after House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz threatened to negotiate the budget with the governor and leave Republican legislators out of the room.

By Wednesday afternoon, Republican legislative leaders were holding a press conference to release a new budget proposal they would like to run as an amendment.

Senate President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said Democrats haven’t done a full budget. He said they’ve only done a spending plan and it’s easy to do a spending plan to say “you’re going to give everybody everything.” He said what’s hard is explaining how to pay for it.

Fasano said they’ve been willing to have a conversation as long as Democrats are able to say where they are raising taxes to pay for their spending.

“To this day Rep. Klarides and I have yet to see it,” Fasano said.

Aresimowicz said he’s been begging the Republicans for weeks to sit down and start discussing budget adjustments like they did last fall.

“It is extremely disappointing to hear their election year partisan rhetoric today,” Aresimowicz said.

Kelly Donnelly, a spokeswoman for Malloy, said what seems to have happened is that Republicans saw an increase in revenues to the state and “immediately spent it.”

She said the current version of their budget spends $120 million more than the governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019.

“It does that while somehow decimating funding for the University of Connecticut, decimating funding for the Department of Children and Families, and decimating our Special Transportation Fund,” Donnelly said. “Amazingly, they did all this while also claiming – literally – the current year deficit was ‘impossible’ to fix.”

Deficit mitigation back to top

Malloy proposed a deficit mitigation plan back in December 2017 for what at the time was estimated to be a $225 million deficit. That deficit, according to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, has grown to $386.7 million. Neither party has shown any interest on closing that deficit with anything more than the additional money in the Rainy Day Fund.

Fasano shot back at Donnelly that they must be on the right track if Malloy doesn’t like their budget.

“The truth is Governor Malloy has always wanted to see the legislature’s bipartisan budget fail and has done everything in his power to try to make that happen, ignoring savings recommendations made by the legislature and failing to implement the budget as lawmakers intended,” Fasano said. “As a result we are now facing a deficit in the current year so large we are left with no choice.”

Donnelly went on to criticize Republicans.

“Again, the party of so-called fiscal responsibility said this after being in session since February with an existing current year deficit that they’ve known about, and for which the governor gave them hundreds of millions of dollars in options to solve,” Donnelly said. “And yet, they’ve simply given up – Republicans have tried nothing and they’re all out of ideas. Connecticut Republicans are living in a land of make-believe, where their values and their priorities change by the hour.”

Malloy isn’t running for re-election and is, according to some polls, the most unpopular governor in the nation.

That makes it a hard sell for Democratic legislators who are seeking re-election to be seen negotiating with Malloy who is more unpopular in Connecticut than Republican President Donald Trump.