Governor meets with lawmakers about budget - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Governor meets with lawmakers about budget

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Reps. Themis Klarides (R) and Joe Aresimowicz  (D), and Sens. Len Fasano (R) and Bob Duff (D), provide an update on the state budget situation. (WFSB) Reps. Themis Klarides (R) and Joe Aresimowicz (D), and Sens. Len Fasano (R) and Bob Duff (D), provide an update on the state budget situation. (WFSB)

Gov. Dannel Malloy met with state lawmakers on Wednesday morning to discuss how to fix a projected $5 billion deficit in the new two-year budget.

It's unclear if they'll be able to reach an agreement about the budget by the end of this month.

Malloy's meeting happened 9:30 a.m.

"I urged them to do their best," Malloy said. "I have a budget that is balanced and ready to go. They can vote on that."

If there's no agreement, the governor will have to spell out his priorities about what's most important to fund. Now cities and towns across the state just want to know what the state will be giving them.

He said he stressed that while his list of priorities would not be the preferred method for operating the state, the action is necessary to ensure smooth functionality.

“I want to assure the public that while negotiations between my administration and leaders from both the Republican and Democratic caucuses are continuing, we are putting a plan in place in order to allow critical functions of government to continue to operate,” Malloy said.  “Operating state government through executive authority is not my preferred method, but in the absence of a biennial budget from the legislature I must prepare contingency plans.  I am committed to ensuring that the state is managed responsibly and in such a way that we do not exacerbate our existing fiscal challenges.”

Malloy said his administration is developing a plan based on these principles:

  • We should not increase our projected deficit – rather, we should apportion funds according to a plan that is in balance for the entire fiscal year.
  • We should allocate funding to first support the most essential health, safety, and human services for our most vulnerable residents.
  • We should consider the fiscal capacity of outside organizations – including cities and towns – when apportioning reductions.
  • We should comply with various court orders, stipulations, and mandates, including but not limited to the Municipal Revenue Sharing Account (MRSA), the Juan F. case, CCJEF, and the SNAP and Medicaid programs. 
  • We should honor our tentative collective bargaining agreements while such agreements are under consideration by state employees and by the Connecticut General Assembly.

The pressure is on to reach an agreement on the new budget.

Democratic and Republican leaders also did not provide specifics during a news conference late Wednesday morning.

They said they will hold meeting with their caucuses this week to try and come to a resolution. They'll then meet again with Malloy on Monday.

"We’re all on the same page in regards to trying to move forward in doing this by July 1," said Rep. Themis Klarides, a Republican who represents Derby, Orange and Woodbridge. "But if it doesn’t happen, the state will run, but it will be difficult."

"I think we had some good discussions and movements have been made," said Republican State Senator Len Fasano.

"We probably had one of the most productive meetings we’ve had so far on the budget," said Democratic State Senator Bob Duff.

While the June 30 deadline looms, Malloy's budget director said there is some good news.

The current fiscal year deficit shrank to a projected $107 million shortfall since May.

This change is due to transferring revenue from various funds as well as improvements in state tax collection.

The governor told Eyewitness News the state's been in this position before and there are some options, such as using last year's budget but the state will still be facing a two billion-dollar deficit.

A key sticking point is union concessions. 

The governor wants $1.5 billion in labor savings over two years, but the GOP wants more because the deficit is higher. 

Under the governor's plan, he also creates a new tier of employees who will pay more towards their pension.

“It is my sincere hope that we can and will pass a budget before the end of the fiscal year," Malloy said. "At the same time, I felt it was prudent to share how I will approach our budget should we fail to achieve our common goal.”

He said a detailed plan will be finalized and released to the public by June 30.

More details as to what could be cut are expected to be released as the end of the month approaches, but some lawmakers are expecting painful cuts with the governor in charge.

“I think he mentioned a 17 percent cut across the board if there’s no budget by July 1,” Klarides said.

The governor wouldn’t elaborate on that 17 percent claim, saying there will be different amounts in different areas, but either way, it seems like this discussion really lit a fire on both sides today. 

Stay with Eyewitness News for continuing coverage.

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