State budget passes in CT House - WFSB 3 Connecticut

State budget passes in CT House

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The House Republicans posted that clouds gathered at the state capitol Friday afternoon, 'political and otherwise.' (CT House Republicans photo) The House Republicans posted that clouds gathered at the state capitol Friday afternoon, 'political and otherwise.' (CT House Republicans photo)

The Connecticut House of Representatives passed the state's budget during a special session on Friday.

The state budget passed in the House 74-70 with eight Democrats voting against the budget. 

Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey released a statement on the budget passing in the house. 

“It’s easy to criticize, but It’s never easy to make cuts that reduce services and impact families, and it’s easy to complain, but we had a responsibility to make these tough decisions, unlike the Republicans who did not have the courage to even offer their own budget for a vote. We were able to pass a budget that closed the deficit without raising taxes, borrowing or tapping into the rainy day fund, and makes the structural changes needed to move Connecticut forward on a sustainable path," Sharkey's statement read.  

On Thursday, the state Senate passed Gov. Dannel Malloy's budget, which aimed to close a nearly $1 billion shortfall. Friday, it was up to the state House of Representatives.

"I think this is a difficult budget," said Joe Aresimowicz, House Majority Leader. "It's not a budget to be happy about." 

The proposal, however, continues to be overwhelmingly unpopular among lawmakers. It includes $20 billion in cuts.

"There's cuts to education, there's cuts to social services, there's cuts to state employees, there's cuts to nonprofits," Aresimowicz said. 

State workers aren't immune to more layoffs.

"We've heard from 2,500 to 4,000 layoffs. Some of that is going to be dictated by how well our revenues are doing and how much savings are achieved if people retire," said Vincent Candelora, Deputy Republican Leader. 

"It is a difficult budget for difficult times," said Sen. Martin Looney, Democrat and Senate president. "Many of the cuts we are making are unpleasant to make."

Democrats were quick to point out that while the budget was a tough one, they is a silver lining. 

"We did not increase taxes. We didn't borrow to pay down our deficit," Aresimowicz said. 

Republicans argued this budget was really an election day gimmick. 

"While we just balanced it for this year, the budget still falls out of balance for future years. We really should be looking at this more long term," Candelora said. 

Thursday afternoon, along party lines, the revised budget was passed by the Senate. It closed the $960 million shortfall, but not without steep cuts that impact education, state aid to cities and towns and will mean more layoffs for state workers.

The $20 million budget bill called for:

  • $821 million reduction in general fund spending
  • $43 million cuts to hospital funding
  • $8.7 million decrease in state grants to private, nonprofit agencies providing mental health and addiction services

Republican senators said they felt the budget was a bad bill and a short-term fix.

"It's almost like the state of Connecticut is on fire and rather than putting water on it and starting over, the Democratic Party is taking out the marshmallows and having a roast fest," said Sen. Kevin Witkos of Canton.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo said on the bright side, future revenues should improve. However, such dramatic cuts being felt so broadly will only hurt consumer confidence.

What could also draw out the session is Malloy's second chance bill, which was not voted on Thursday night because there were not enough votes in the Senate to support it. The bill reforms the bail system for juveniles and young adults.

It's been a priority for Malloy and also counts on $14 million in savings, which happens to be part of the budget.

The House was supposed to take up the budget at 10:30 a.m. As of almost noon, however, many lawmakers were not yet at the capitol.

The budget now heads to the Governor. Once he signs it, it will take effect on July 1. 

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