Lawmakers overwhelmingly pass bipartisan state budget - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers overwhelmingly pass bipartisan state budget

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Just hours before the legislative session ends, lawmakers reached a bipartisan budget agreement.

Lawmakers have been negotiating behind closed doors for days, as the end of the session drew closer.

The Senate passed the budget fix unanimously.

The House passed the bi-partisan budget 142-8 with just 36 minutes before midnight. 

The budget will now go to the governor's office to be signed. 

If the budget didn't pass both chambers before midnight, there would have been a special session. 

"We all got together as leaders in our chairs and ranks and we managed to bang out a budget deal," said Republican State Senator Len Fasano on Wednesday afternoon.

Before then, lawmakers had passed dozens of bills.

The tough task was working together to figure out how to close a roughly $380 million budget gap and get money to transportation projects.

"It took true compromise on both sides. It is in the true interest in the state of Connecticut on all sides. I am happy and proud of this General Assembly to come up with a bipartisan basis," said Democratic State Rep. and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz.

The bipartisan plan restores aide to cities and towns, fully funds the Medicare savings plan, and to fund transportation for the next five years.

Projects on hold will go forward and there will be no rate increases for buses or trains.

Republicans said they agreed to back off on collective bargaining proposals, and in exchange, Democrats agreed to raise increases for private providers at group homes.

"We'll see what happens with the final bills and budget adjustment," said Gov. Dannel Malloy. The Democrats and Republicans in the House want to spend a lot of money. They can't agree how to spend it. I want to spend less money and make sure we have a rainy day fund."

Yesterday Republican leaders offered revisions to their budget proposal, including restoring funding for Husky A, a healthcare program that impacts 13,000 low-income families. 

However, Malloy said the proposal weights too heavily on the state’s billion-dollar rainy day fund. 

“So last year, the Republicans raised taxes and now they want to raise spending," Malloy said. "And perhaps it’s easier for them to raise spending this time because they want to take it out of the rainy day fund. You know, it’s a dangerous proposition when you’re very late into a financial cycle."

Last year, lawmakers failed to reach a budget deal. Talks dragged on for months in an extended special session that finally ended with a bi-partisan agreement that was passed in the House and Senate.

Now that a deal was reached, it appears that won't be an issue this year.

Some of the bills that passed this session are transparency on prescription drug price increases, protections for women's healthcare, pay equity, national popular vote, and a ban on bump stocks.

Bills that failed are tolls, recreational marijuana, an increase in minimum wage, making it easier for sexual harassment victims to come forward, and there was no vote on sports betting.

The overriding sentiment was that they wanted to avoid a special session or pass the deficit off to the next General Assembly.

Malloy has not addressed lawmakers at midnight for the past couple of years. He may do so Wednesday night because it's his last year.

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