CT Senate passes budget, House expected to vote Friday - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT Senate passes budget, House expected to vote Friday

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State Senate reaches budget deal (WFSB) State Senate reaches budget deal (WFSB)
The legislative session ran out before lawmakers could come to a budget agreement. (WFSB photo) The legislative session ran out before lawmakers could come to a budget agreement. (WFSB photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

With state lawmakers failing to pass a budget last week, the state Senate approved a budget on Thursday afternoon during a special session.

The state faces a $960 million deficit going into the next fiscal year. Funding for everything from education to hospital funding and municipal aid hanging in the balance.

First up on Thursday, the budget went through the Senate, where a revised version passed, 21-15 with all Republicans voting against it.

Lawmakers said they were initially unable to push a proposal over the finish line due to partisan bickering, which continued into this week.

Republicans blamed Democrats for being slow to get the bulk of the bill to them. Now, they said they shouldn't vote on anything until the budget documents are finalized and made public in their entirety.

"[Connecticut] is on fire and Democrats are throwing marshmallows on it," Republicans said before they went into the session.

Meanwhile, Democrats said their counterparts should reevaluate their position.

"It is a difficult budget for difficult times. Many of the cuts we are making are unpleasant to make," said Democratic State Senator Martin Looney.

The war of words happened while hospitals, schools, towns, state agencies and workers anxiously awaited the final outcome.

"It's a struggle of a budget. Nobody is happy about the budget. We are making cuts to families ---folks we are laying off - it's an uncomfortable budget," said Democratic Majority Leader State. Rep. Joe Aresimowicz.

The House is expected to vote on the budget on Friday.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said he's been pushing for a change in how the state budget is calculated.

“In February, I said we needed to change how we budget, that we needed to do things differently," he said in a statement. "This budget makes more than $820 million in long-term cuts, which helps mitigate long-term deficits. It’s a good budget, and I urge the legislature to pass it."

Malloy said that ending the "current services" budgeting approach is an important reform that he called for over the winter. It said it was a critical part of the budget agreement and would ensure that the government does not continue to increase spending on autopilot.

"As I have said before, we also must consider mandatory legislative approval of labor contracts as well as finally enacting the constitutional spending cap the voters approved decades ago," he said. "These are things that I would support if passed by the legislature. This budget, nonetheless, is a no doubt a critical start of the conversation heading in the right direction and reflects the beginning, not the end, of our work.”

Malloy's office said right now, the Office of Fiscal Analysis and the Office of Policy and Management calculate estimates for future expenditure growth based on current spending.

In an implementer bill is a proposal to change that through fixed cost drivers.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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