Democratic lawmakers, governor split on budget -- CCM starts up TV Ad
By Ken Dixon Gov.
A rift blew open Tuesday between Democratic leaders of the General Assembly and the governor over the state’s budget crisis, threatening a political meltdown with two weeks to go in the legislative session.
The four Democratic leaders skipped a morning meeting on the projected $922 million budget deficit in Gov. Dannl P. Malloy’s office with House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano.
The Republicans said it was an embarrassment to the budget negotiation process. “I thought the whole idea of these meetings was to have conversations,” said Fasano, R-North Haven, after emerging from from the Democratic governor’s Capitol office.
“Here we are, in the infancy of conversations, and they refuse to participate.” Klarides, R-Derby, said recent weekly meetings in Malloy’s office have been aimed at developing a framework for compromise. “They made the decision to not be in the room, which was I think is an irresponsible decision on their part,” Klarides said. “We go in there because it’s our job to go in and figure out what we can get from it, meaning, ‘Can we agree on something?’ ”
Malloy, speaking to reporters in his office, said lawmakers have to rise to the budget problems. “I don’t feel jilted,” he said. “I think it’s really hard adjusting to a new economic reality. It’s very hard, and they have big constituencies.”
Governor opposes borrowing, raising taxes back to top
Malloy opposes borrowing, raising taxes or using the state’s $400 million emergency reserves.
The governor said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, “was having a bad day” last week when he called the governor’s proposed cuts to local education, hospitals and municipal aid “a hit list.”
Outside the House chamber Tuesday afternoon, Sharkey denied the governor’s assessment, charging that the spending document Malloy issued last week, a rewritten form of the budget he proposed in February, included unacceptable slashes to municipal aid, local schools and hospitals.
“It only transfers the cost of government onto local government,” Sharkey said, also criticizing a proposal for the governor to take greater control over state budgeting authority. “It felt somewhat like a poke in the eye to members of the House and Senate, both Democrats and Republicans.”
While Sharkey and Malloy said there was nothing personal, they continued to disagree on how to tackle the deficit in the $19 billion budget set to take effect July 1. Sharkey and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said they do not intend to participate in other budget talks with the governor until the April tax-revenue projections come out next week, just days before the May 4 adjournment deadline
They remained optimistic that the budget can be finalized before the May 4 adjournment deadline. After the 20-minute sit-down with the governor, Fasano and Klarides said they expect to participate in another closed-door session with Malloy on Thursday. Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney said in a statement that majority leaders are preparing budget legislation that they can present to Malloy, who could sign it, veto it, or let it become law without his signature.
“Democrats in the General Assembly are working on a $920 million plan, and further talks would not be productive until we have specifics to reach that number,” Looney, D-New Haven, said in a 2 p.m. statement. “We are willing to work in good faith with Republicans and the governor to balance our budget. Republicans want to have it both ways. They criticize Democrats but are content to sit in meeting after meeting without a plan of their own.”
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities on Tuesday began airing a new TV ad campaign aimed at preserving municipal aid to avoid local increases in property taxes. The $80,000 ad campaign will air 350 30-second spots on WFSB CH. 3, WVIT CH. 30, WTIC-FOX 61, WTNH Ch. 8 and Cable News12.