Without State Budget, Towns Could See Steep Cuts Under Malloy’s Executive Order

Without State Budget, Towns Could See Steep Cuts Under Malloy’s Executive Order

Meriden Record-Journal, June 30, 2017

By Michael Savino

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made one last effort Wednesday to get his proposed short-term budget passed, offering a compromise to House leaders in seeking bipartisan support for the bill. He also challenged them to explain why they don’t intend to vote for his so-called “mini budget” if they decline the offer, even questioning whether House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, and Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, have an agreement not to take action.

Malloy will have to run the state budget through executive order if the state fails to adopt any type of spending plan before Friday’s end of the fiscal year. Locally, Wallingford could see the largest cut, $13.92 million. Cheshire would lose $12.4 million; Southington, $9.9 million; and Meriden, $8.7 million.

Lawmakers remain deadlocked on a budget as the state faces a projected $5 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years.

Malloy has offered a short-term budget that would generate some revenue and mitigate some of the cuts in his planned executive order, but each of the House leaders expressed some level of reluctance to vote on it.

“I’m ready to stay here all night to work together toward passing a short-term bipartisan ‘mini’ budget in the House before the new fiscal year, if everyone is committed to also taking the next step of using this as a pathway toward the adoption of a full biennium budget,” Aresimowicz said in a statement. “That is our ultimate responsibility to the people of Connecticut and we all must show more of an urgency of getting there.”

The statement echoes comments he made to reporters Tuesday, when he expressed concern that voting on a short-term budget would make lawmakers complacent despite the need to adopt a full budget.

Significant strings attached back to top

Klarides said in a statement that Malloy’s budget offer “came with significant strings attached.”

She didn’t elaborate, but said Malloy also appeared to “have little interest” in negotiating possible changes to his alternative.

Klarides also denied Malloy’s question about whether she and Aresimowicz had an agreement not to vote on the plan, saying House Republicans want a vote on their budget proposal.

“We have repeatedly asked for votes on our budgets and stand ready to take action whenever the legislature convenes,” she said.

Senate leaders said Tuesday that they want a vote on the “mini budget” to avoid the executive order Malloy has planned.

The executive order, if in place for the entire year, would cut total spending by $558.7 million. Malloy has said he would impose his budget in quarterly segments until a budget is passed.

Some of the cuts run deeper than the total, though, as some of the savings would be used to offset increased expenditures for pensions, court mandates, debt service, and other obligations.

Aid to municipalities, for example, would be cut by $684.2 million when compared to the current budget.

Joe DeLong, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said that the cuts, while potentially painful, won’t begin to affect municipalities until after the summer. Towns don’t begin receiving Education Cost Sharing grants, the largest form of municipal aid, and some of the other payments until September.

DeLong said CCM, the state’s largest municipal lobbying organization, is continuing to schedule meetings with lawmakers to push for more municipal aid.

“CCM will conduct a thorough review of the Governor’s proposals so that we can properly inform our member towns and cities of their projected impacts,” DeLong said in a statement. “However, our continued focus will be on the adoption of a budget for the next biennium that protects property taxpayers and provides our communities with the tools and reforms needed to spur economic growth across all of Connecticut.”