Lawmakers say no budget deal will be voted on Wednesday night - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers say no budget deal will be voted on Wednesday night

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Lawmakers in the General Assembly. (WFSB photo) Lawmakers in the General Assembly. (WFSB photo)

A tentative budget agreement was reached at the state capitol among democrats, and it came in the nick of time, but Republicans said they didn't know about it until Wednesday afternoon.

With the midnight deadline just a few hours away, the GOP said it feels like the deal is being rammed down their throats.

At about 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, House of Representative leaders said "it is not possible to do a budget this evening," which means lawmakers are headed toward a special session. 

In statement on Wednesday, Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey & House Majority Leader  Joe Aresimowicz said in part, “The time it took to reach an agreement, combined with the challenge of staff to physically get a printed bill to the floor, and then achieve passage, would likely require a cutoff of discussions. That scenario would not be fair for the purpose of allowing a complete and reasonable debate, and at this point would be a disservice to House members and the public they represent to move forward tonight.”

Now there will be a special session.

The bill covers a projected $960 million deficit. A vote was expected to happen on Wednesday.

The $19 billion plan contains $830 million in spending cuts. According to lawmakers, it does not include new taxes or fees.

Democrats in the House of Representatives said the plan was to vote on Wednesday before the General Assemble adjourns at midnight. 

Republicans said they didn't see the plan until Wednesday afternoon.

They said it's not only unfair to them, but also Connecticut taxpayers.

Democrats said it is unfair for Republicans to say they don't know anything about the budget. House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz said 95 percent of the budget has been out there for weeks.

"No I think it's very different. The governor actually proposed three different budgets. Republicans proposed a budget and we proposed two budgets...this is probably one of the most vetted budgets we have put out in years," Aresimowicz said.

Minority leader Len Fasano criticized the timing that led to the agreement.

"This is a big document, let's let it sit out there and let people read it," he said.

Lawmakers said the two sides were about $190 million apart. The gap appears to have been bridged by making line-by-line cuts.

The tentative deal includes projects funding, municipal aid and money for local schools.

It also led to hundreds of layoffs across a number of state departments, including nearly 90 announced Tuesday in the Department of Developmental Services.

Lori J. Pelletier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO union issued a statement on the deal on Wednesday.

“Gov. Malloy, Senate President [Martin] Looney, and Speaker [Brendan] Sharkey need to end their quest for a last-minute austerity budget and call a special session so the budget is done without balancing it on the backs of working people," she said. "If the governor and legislative leaders continue down this road of cutting services to the state’s most vulnerable and laying off public service workers, not only will it devastate these individual families but it will have a chilling effect on the economy."

Pelletier said better choices would be to raise the minimum wage, go after employers who exploit the system, do a better job of collecting taxes and get those who have enjoyed financial prosperity in this economy to help bring the state back on track.

The budget agreement comes after weeks of frustration on both sides of the aisle, including within the Democratic party.

A legislative aide told Eyewitness News that Republicans had received the budget proposal and were reviewing it as of Wednesday morning.

Malloy released a statement on Wednesday, saying: “I want to thank members of both parties in the General Assembly for their work this session. The budget agreement is honest, sustainable, and adjusts to Connecticut’s new economic reality. It adheres to our principles that we will balance the budget without raising taxes, without raiding the rainy day fund, and without borrowing to cover operating expenses. It is based almost entirely on recurring, structural reductions in spending. It’s a good agreement. If it happened too late in session to finish on time, and this delay is about giving members more time to understand what they’re voting on, that’s fine and even admirable. I said in February that we should not pass a budget on the last day of session. However, if this delay begins a discussion about re-opening the agreement in order to find a way to avoid difficult decisions, that’s unacceptable.  I will not move from the principles we’ve agreed to. I want to reassure the citizens of Connecticut that if we don’t take the necessary action together, I will take whatever steps necessary to bring our budget into balance. I urge the General Assembly to pass this budget as soon as possible.”

The Senate could hold a special session as early as Friday. The House may not come until next week.

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