Budget, other bills remain in question as session's end nears - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Budget, other bills remain in question as session's end nears

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Lawmakers have been discussing a number of items, including the state budget, before the end of the legislative session on Wednesday at midnight. (WFSB) Lawmakers have been discussing a number of items, including the state budget, before the end of the legislative session on Wednesday at midnight. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

This year’s legislative session ends Wednesday at midnight, and more than a hundred bills have passed this session, but hundreds more may never be voted on.

The number of bills passed is slightly less than previous years, and the type of legislation we are seeing is also a bit different.

A bipartisan deal on a state budget remains in question just days before the end of the legislative session.

Lawmakers have just two more days to come to an agreement and as of Tuesday, they were in the process of making changes to a 2-year budget that's already in place.

The current budget is roughly $380 million in the red and lawmakers are at odds about what changes should be made.

Democrats and Republicans said they want to reach a bipartisan agreement before the clock runs out at midnight on Wednesday.

"Go ask the caucus members, let me give you two choices we will fix Medicare savings program Husky, a car tax, a couple other things, and vote by midnight or play Russian roulette with a 200-page document nobody has had time to read," said Democratic State Rep. Matt Ritter.

Leaders from both parties said they're in discussions. However, what happens next is unclear.

Many rank and file lawmakers want to see a bi-partisan agreement, but if that falls apart, Republicans say they're prepared to run their own budget.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Republican leaders, while meeting with Democrats behind closed doors, said they would be willing to fund Husky A, a program that affects 13,000 low-income adults who care for young children.

Right now both sides say they support this but it’s not in either budget.

Democratic leaders say let’s work off that, but the GOP said the larger issues are more significant and accuse Democrats of pushing for a budget that will create more debt.

"Taxpayers are tired of deficits. Every year we have a deficit because plans made by the majority party has passed,” said Republican State Senator Len Fasano.

The move by Republicans to sweeten their budget may be seen as a good-will gesture, but they still have to reach an agreement.

One thing is clear. Both sides have presented plans that include using millions from the rainy day fund. The fund has more than a billion dollars in it.

Lawmakers also said they don't want the session to end without such an agreement.

If there's no agreement by Wednesday, lawmakers can just pass off the deficit or Gov. Dannel Malloy can call them back in for a special session.

As this year’s session winds down, those who were able to get bills passed are thankful.

Michael Bloom, from the Jewish Federation of Connecticut, was able to convince lawmakers that all students should learn about the Holocaust.

For the first time, the bill made it out of committee and passed both chambers.

"Legislators saw the rise in hate in the state and in the country and they wanted to make a statement and do something about it,” Bloom said.

About 40 states do not require Holocaust teaching. In Connecticut, it's up to each school district. Now it will be required to be part of the curriculum.

Both chambers have also passed legislation that protects women's health care. Advocates worry federal changes could reduce certain benefits such as reproductive rights, maternity care and birth control. Connecticut will cover these regardless of what happens in Washington.

Legislation that requires drug companies to explain huge price increases is now hung up in the Senate after passing the House.

Lawmakers in the House have approved a bill that would pave the way for another casino in Bridgeport or in New Haven, but it seems to have come to a halt in the Senate.

"It was important in our caucus for people to speak their mind, wasn't wasted. Will it become a bill, according to Senator Olsen in the Senate no, but that happens a lot,” said Democratic State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz.

There are a number of bills whose future remains uncertain, including sports betting.

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