Lawmakers pass plan to close budget deficit - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers pass plan to close budget deficit

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A special session of the General Assembly kicked off Tuesday morning to tackle, among other things, budgetary issues.

Gov. Dannel Malloy announced that he signed a proclamation calling on lawmakers to convene at 10 a.m.

"After over a month of bipartisan dialogue with a healthy exchange of ideas, I believe there is more that unites Democratic and Republican leaders than divides us,” Malloy said. “We all want what's best for the State of Connecticut.”

At the beginning of the month, Comptroller Kevin Lembo announced a revised projection by the Office of Policy and Management that had the state budget deficit of $122.4 million. That was up from the $102.8 million deficit accounted for in September.

Lembo agreed with lawmakers that targeting between $350 million and $370 million would be needed to balance the budget.

On Tuesday, lawmakers closed the deficit for this year.

They voted to cut $350 million, and the cuts will not be as painful as expected. Some funding has been restored to social services, as well as hospitals who waged a public campaign and were very critical of the governor's budget plan.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved the deficit-cutting package during Tuesday's special session on a mostly party-line vote of 75-65. It cleared the Senate earlier by a vote of 20-15.

"We've come up with a package that really respects the wishes of the General Assembly and the executive branch. It's not nearly as bad as it would have been," said State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz.

The blow is also softer for local businesses like General Electric, who has talked about leaving the state because of higher taxes.

They came close to passing a lock box on transportation, which is something the governor wanted. The constitutional amendment passed in the Senate but didn't get enough votes in the House to be placed on a ballot.

It would have created a special trust fund that could not be raided. Malloy has proposed spending billions to fix roads and bridges.

"What we are doing today isn't 100 percent of what we want to do, (like) things that will move our state forward," said State Senator Bob Duff.

Republicans said the deficit mitigation plan is a band-aid and that it doesn't make real structural changes. They said they feel the House and Senate should vote on union contracts and approve state employee raises.

The regular session starts in February, and more cuts are expected.

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