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Minority Leader Calls For Special Session To Stop New Municipal Aid Cuts

Minority Leader Calls For Special Session To Stop New Municipal Aid Cuts

CT Posr, November 22, 2017

By Ken Dixon

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides has called for the General Assembly to reconvene and overturn the municipal aid cuts ordered last week by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

In response, Malloy’s spokeswoman said Klarides has a case of “buyer’s remorse.”

The Republican leader’s announcement came less than a week after the legislature put the finishing touches on a two-year, $41.3 million budget, which gave Malloy wide discretion on unilateral cost-cutting that he announced on Friday.

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said that House and Senate leaders, who spent weeks in closed door discussions to reach the recent bipartisan budget deal, will meet again next week. His counterpart, Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, believes Malloy is over-estimating the deficit so he can order further budget slashing.

“The governor’s cuts last week were clearly intended to punish towns and cities,’’ Klarides, of Derby, said in a late-afternoon statement. She said that legislative leaders were under the impression that Malloy’s savings would come from personnel savings and other line items called Targeted Lapse Savings in the budget.

On Friday, Malloy announced $880 million in cuts across both state agencies and municipal aid.

“Governor Malloy clearly knew exactly how we intended to achieve the Targeted Savings Lapse,’’ Klarides said. “Instead, his recent action shifts more pain onto municipalities and is a blatant disregard for the will of the legislative leaders and the overwhelming majority of legislators who voted for the budget.’’

“It’s becoming clearer by the day that Representative Klarides has a strong case of buyer’s remorse,” said Kelly Donnelly, Malloy’s communications director. “If she and other leaders had a specific plan for how these lapses should have been implemented, they should have included those details in the budget they gave to their members, voted on, and adopted. They didn’t do that. This is the budget they crafted and voted for - if they want it changed, they have the authority to come in at any time and pass a new budget.”

Deficit estimates back to top

Malloy on Monday reported that the estimate deficit in the current budget is more than $202 million. If Comptroller Kevin Lembo agrees, the governor will have to arrange further rescissions to balance the budget.

“When you look at it in terms of percentages, about 1 percent of the total budget, and consider that we are only four months into the current fiscal year, it is not an unmanageable number,” said Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin. “If and when the governor does need to submit a mitigation plan to the legislature, we stand ready to work with the administration in the coming months to ensure the budget is balanced going forward.”

Fasano said that Malloy included some items in his deficit calculation that lawmakers had not planned to be part of the budget.

“I would have hoped Gov. Malloy would have been honest about the size of that deficit and focus on starting a conversation with lawmakers about how we can address these shortfalls together,” Fasano said. “He is releasing artificially high numbers to trigger the need for a formal deficit mitigation plan, a process that gives him the power to issue his own plan for the budget and make himself relevant. It’s disturbing that Gov. Malloy would purposefully make the state’s finances look worse than they actually are just so he can have a say in how we close the budget shortfall.”