March 23, 2018

CT House budget talks collapse; Senate to convene at noon

16 September 2017, 10:51 | Marlene Myers

The House passed the GOP state budget early Saturday morning

The House passed the GOP state budget early Saturday morning

A final budget plan for the fiscal year that began July 1 and the year beginning next July 1 is already two-months late.

The Republican budget now heads to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which could vote on it Friday evening.

Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, said the vote was "a total surprise" to him and his colleagues, and that the defection vote could garner more support for his party's plan from Democrats in the House.

"There were clearly people in the Senate Democratic caucus that saw and believed in the fact that there was a third choice, and that third choice was the best choice for CT", she said Saturday. "They are ready to stand up - and we are ready to work with them and our elected leadership - to fight for Democratic candidates and elected officials who will defend our state's values".

In a likely harbinger of the hard times ahead, Looney and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said they were ambushed, noting that the dissenters had told them they were uncertain of their intentions, yet all had prepared remarks explaining their votes.

Republican lawmakers have criticized the revenue increases in the Democrats' budget plan and have proposed their own plan with no tax increases.

Republicans are refusing to support the plan Malloy and Democratic leaders are working toward, largely because of the tax hikes involved to help close significant projected deficits.

Doyle said after the vote that he wants the legislature to "move forward with a bipartisan budget".

Lawmakers were at the State Capitol until the early hours on Saturday
Lawmakers were at the State Capitol until the early hours on Saturday

Democrats need nearly unanimous support from their members to pass a new budget without GOP votes.

No increase in income tax rates or in the base 6.35 percent sales tax rate.

"I believe the amended budget that passed in the Senate today is unbalanced, and if it were to reach my desk I would veto it". The Office of Fiscal Analysis said that it would generate $32 million a year.

It incorporates savings from the concessions deal unions and Malloy struck earlier this year, as does the compromise plan reached by the governor and Democratic leaders. Republicans say it achieves $270 million in savings by requiring workers to pay more toward their retirement benefit, eliminating cost of living adjustments until the fund balance of the state employee retirement system is deemed healthy by national standards and by eliminating overtime from the calculation of an employee's salary for pension benefits.

Many Democratic leaders, the governor and union leaders have questioned whether the state can make these changes unilaterally or whether that would violate collective bargaining rules.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin has said the city could soon file for bankruptcy if it does not receive roughly $45 million of state aid. The change in how those costs are funded would generate about $91.9 million for the state in 2018 and $189.7 million in 2019.

The package also calls for $50 million to be raised in the second year of the budget by canceling yet-to-be-identified tax credits. Absent a budget, Malloy has said he has no choice but to reduce major general government and education grants to cities and towns on September 30 and October 1. The state and teachers now pay the entire amount of retirement costs for teachers.

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