Connecticut's governor, as promised, vetoed the Republican-backed budget that was passed by lawmakers earlier this month.
Gov. Dannel Malloy released his letter to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill in which he explained his reasoning for the veto. He called it "unbalanced, unsustainable and unwise."
"Unfortunately, this budget does not balance, risks potential litigation and undermines our fiscal stability, educational system and economic developments efforts," Malloy wrote.
Malloy cited the budget's changes to the state's pension plans and how they were legally unsound, the changes to higher education funding, the state's educational cost-sharing formula for school districts and municipal aid.
"[This budget] cuts hundreds of millions of dollars from our colleges and universities, endangering our economic competitiveness," Malloy said. "It creates the near-certainty that our capital city will be plunged into bankruptcy; it eviscerates proven funding and improvement programs for social districts with the greatest needs while sending more money to the wealthiest towns."
Read the whole letter here.
Connecticut is the only state in the country without a budget. As of Friday, it's been 90 days without a spending plan in place.
"People are throwing structural change around where it has little or no meaning," Malloy said.
There have been several meetings between the governor and legislative leaders this week. The governor spoke after meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders on Thursday afternoon.
"It's easier to lie than it is to tell the truth and it's easy to mislead than to tell the truth," Malloy said.
The governor said the GOP budget raises $800 million in taxes and the same makes huge cuts to higher education. The GOP budget slashes the University of Connecticut and the UConn Health Center close to $300 million.
Republican leaders said while they were expecting the veto, they are defending their budget. GOP leaders said their budget that passed doesn't raise taxes and is makes needed cuts. They added this is a bi-partisan budget.
"This is a different day in Connecticut. We are in a different situation," Republican House leader Themis Klarides said after the meeting. “The state feels differently. We have a different way to negotiating and to say there's not enough on one party in it is disingenuous."
The veto puts more pressure on lawmakers to get an agreement."It is not a surprise that he vetoed it but very disappointing," Klarides said. "We are in this room and we will continue to be in this room."
GOP leaders said their budget makes necessary changes and cuts to move the state forward and they are talking about an override. But until then, these meetings will continue and clear differences remain.
"You have a veto which you can override or your not and stay with your party," Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) said. "I presume on the democratic side and say we we accept the governor's cuts and know that we don't have a budget forthright. I think that's a very soul searching question that the legislators are going to have to make."
If a bipartisan deal cant be reached, the veto override would require a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate. That would mean 29 House Democrats would have to agree to the veto. that would be a huge leap. Only five House Democrats broke ranks and voted for the Republican budget deal. Six Senate Democrats would have to agree to the override. Only three crossed the aisle and voted yes on the Republican budget.
"The budget that passed is a terrible budget for the state of Connecticut," Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington) said. "It will have a toxic effect on our economy and institutes of higher learning."
Aresimowicz said a veto override is not the answer and that compromise must be reached.
"There's no lines in the sand, everything's on the table, good bad or indifferent," Aresimowicz said. "I want to pass a budget that moves Connecticut forward."
Officials said the goal of Thursday's meeting was to talk about a hospital tax. They said both sides seem to be getting close to an agreement to raise it to 8 percent. Lawmakers could come back to the State Capitol for vote on a deal to increase the hospital tax.
Each day without a plan brings the state closer to an Oct. 1 deadline. That's when another executive order will be signed by Malloy and it could lead to more drastic cuts.
Republicans tried on Wednesday to rally for Malloy to sign their budget, which was passed by Connecticut lawmakers earlier this month. Klarides released a statement after the veto.
“While not unexpected, the governor’s decision today to veto the bipartisan budget is frustrating if not infuriating, not just for the legislators who got it through our chambers here, but more so for the local leaders who for months have pleaded for us to get a budget in place to allow them to provide the core services their constituents expect: Educating children, paving roads, and simply keeping town halls open," Klarides said. "Make no mistake, the governor has stamped his seal on this crisis faced by municipalities and people who depend on core state services he rejected the only plan that made it through the legislature, favoring his roughshod approach that will undoubtedly draw cities and towns deeper into the ‘permanent fiscal crisis’ he and his team in the legislature fueled. We intend to fight for the bipartisan budget, which fully funds local schools and municipalities, by pushing our Democrat colleagues to override the governor’s veto.”
Aresimowicz released a statement on the veto following the meeting with the governor and Republicans.
“This budget would hurt people and our economy, devastate our cities, decimate our higher education system, and take money out of the pockets of working families, thus it deserved to be vetoed," Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington) said in a statement on Thursday. “Frankly, as more and more people learn about the negative impact the Republican budget would have on them and their families, the less and less chance there is of a veto override.”
Fasano said the governor's veto "has now put Connecticut in chaos."
"By vetoing this budget, the governor’s draconian executive order will remain in effect and create destruction for low and middle income families. His executive order cuts core social services, slashes municipal aid, and zeros out funding for public education – a constitutional requirement. Beyond the obvious cuts, the governor’s actions will result in collateral damages that will create suffering that goes further than anything we’ve seen thus far. There are widespread implications of vetoing this budget and allowing the executive order to remain in effect that no one has a full understanding of yet. For example, the governor’s actions today threaten federal funding for programs such as women’s crisis centers. Lawmakers can correct this by overriding the governor’s veto. But first they are going to have to make a decision. Are they going to vote the party line? Or are they going to vote to protect their towns, cities, students and core services? What is their priority: politics or policy," Fasano said in a statement on Thursday.
Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) also released statements on the veto by the governor.
“The governor points out in his veto message all of the ways in which the Republican budget is inadequate and why it is not a solution to our problems, just as Democrats have been saying in the nearly two weeks since the Republican budget was passed,” Looney said in a statement on Thursday. “The Republican cuts to higher education alone undermine Connecticut’s future in exactly the area where we should be investing. Connecticut’s businesses and economy need a highly educated workforce, and the Republican budget undermines that need, especially with respect to the Republican elimination of the Roberta B. Willis state scholarship program, which will jeopardize access to higher education for 15,000 Connecticut students.”
“The Republican budget hurts middle class families in Connecticut, it hurts seniors, and it hurts students. It should have been vetoed,” Duff said in a statement on Thursday. “I support the veto because the Republican budget increases taxes and fees by a billion dollars, it increases spending, it defers pension payments at a time when we are trying to catch up with decades of deferred pension payments, and – most importantly – the Republican budget is not balanced. The Republican budget also fails to create the real structural change that they have long-touted, as evidenced by their $6 billion in budget deficits in the three years immediately following this biennial budget.”
GOP lawmakers said they'll be banding together across the state in Plymouth, Manchester and Groton, to call on not only Malloy but Democrats to come together. Though some Democrats switched sides to get that GOP budget through, a two-thirds majority would be needed in both chambers.
The Connecticut Working Families party applauded the veto.
"The Republican budget was nothing but a gimmick-laden trick intended to pull a fast one on everyday working people. It was a “trickle-down lite” plan which cut taxes for the rich while increasing taxes on low income and middle class folks. It’s clear that Republicans want everyone at the negotiating table - except rich folks. They’re untouchable," said Carlos Moreno, interim state director, Connecticut Working Families. "It is time for the legislature to get back to work on a fair share, pro-growth budget. We need to help our schools and kids, not cut their opportunities. We need to expand education and job training programs, not hinder our future workforce. And we need to invest in our future by developing the vibrant urban centers that are the engine for growth in our nation today. To do that, it is long past time to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. Connecticut’s workers have done more than enough."
Cities and towns said they are worried if an agreement doesn't come soon. The executive order that's in effect will take an even greater toll on education budgets. Connecticut Education Association called for lawmakers to "convene immediately to create a real bipartisan budget that works for all of us and invests in public education.
"Legislators have another opportunity to move Connecticut forward. A true bipartisan budget must eliminate inefficiencies in state programs and protect critical services; preserve the state’s strengths, including a high-quality education system; institute real tax reform that improves the reliability of the state’s revenue streams in line with the 21st century economy; close tax loopholes and unnecessary tax subsidies; and honor the rights of workers and families," CEA President Sheila Cohen said in a statement on Thursday. "Legislators should not resurrect schemes that will hurt our students, our teachers, our families, and our communities. CEA members will continue to oppose proposals that try to balance the budget on the backs of teachers and students. We will advocate for a fair budget that makes Connecticut a great place for families to live, work, and educate their children."
Stay with Channel 3 for continuing coverage of the state's budget crisis.
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