After being one of three Democrats in the Senate to vote for the Republican budget, it was time for one local senator to face his angry constituents.
Many were union members, while others were UConn employees and students at a town hall meeting Wednesday night where Democratic Senator Paul Doyle was a guest.
For more than an hour, he defended his controversial decision.
He says you can look at it in one of two ways. First, you can see it as a vote that caused the gridlock the state is in because that’s what it was.
It’s day 89 with no budget.
Or you can see it as the vote that blew up the budget and forced leaders to try again because that’s what it is too.
“I voted my conscious and I thought what I did was right,” Doyle said.
Anger flowed from a packed Oddfellow’s Playhouse in Middletown, and all of it directed at the Doyle, one of three Democrats who broke party ranks and voted for the Republican budget triggering even further delays.
On Wednesday, Doyle pulled back the curtain and revealed the tension and threats that were allegedly made on the day he cast his controversial vote.
“That day I was told by my administration and leaders that you have to vote on a budget today and if you don’t there won’t be a budget voted on until February and you’ll be responsible for the degradation of the state of Connecticut,” Doyle said.
Doyle says both the Republican and Democratic budgets had deep flaws, but at Wednesday’s meeting, on multiple occasions, he referred to previously voting for the largest tax increase in state history and said he didn’t want to raise them again.
“I thought the Republican budget was a better choice than the Democratic budget. Both were horrible,” Doyle said.
But hopping on board with the Republicans budget meant being in favor of deep cuts to UConn.
Students with signs made their voices heard on Wednesday, and so did Michael Waltos, an employee at UConn Health.
“Cutting that money to education is bad,” Waltos said.
“Teachers would have been laid off in Middletown. I would have cut t$4 million in Middletown and there would have been layoffs of teachers, so all these cuts are brutal,” Doyle said.
Waltos wasn’t impressed with the answer but understands all solutions will be painful.
“Education is something that should separate us and make us a great state. I don’t think the senator’s plan in any way, shape or form helps us, at all,” Waltos said.
One thing that hit home with many was that whatever budget comes out of this building, whenever that may be, it will not be pretty.
It will contain big cuts and Doyle promises, residents statewide will again, not be happy.
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