No budget vote, Senate to reconvene Friday afternoon

Lawmakers have spent all day working toward voting on a budget (WFSB)

Lawmakers spent all day on Thursday at the state capitol working toward voting on a budget, but one still isn't ready yet. Instead, House Democrats decided to end the caucus for the night just after midnight.

As of Thursday, Connecticut had been without a budget for 76 days. However, lawmakers continue to work on a deal and are expected to put one up for a vote.

On Thursday afternoon, the governor weighed in on the progress of the biennium state budget as lawmakers were expected to start the debate on both parties' proposals.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said with the budget framework finished, it "appears to be a balanced and responsible compromise."

"After finalizing a historic agreement with state employees to save tens of billions of dollars, this budget includes hundreds of millions of dollars in spending cuts, achieving balance without any increases to the sales or income tax rates. It would restore hundreds of millions in town aid, and also include a fair and transparent education funding formula that supports schools and students in communities across Connecticut – big and small. And, it would offer real structural reforms to put our state on better financial footing now and into the future," Malloy said.

Democrats said they've reached an agreement with the governor, and their budget scraps some original tax proposals but adds a few more.

It calls for a cell phone tax of $0.49 per line (similar to Massachusetts), a property tax on seasonal homes only for out-of-state residents, a hospital tax of 8 percent and a tax on fantasy sports gambling.

"While there is no perfect budget out there, we have one that under very difficult circumstances people can vote on," Majority Leader Bob Duff said.

While Democratic leaders are saying they're confident their budget will pass, there is a lot of concern that some moderate Democrats will vote against it. If four Democrats in the House say no and all Republicans say no, the Democrats budget will fail.

"If you don't vote in the affirmative for a bill that will pass the Senate and receive the governor's signature, you are voting for that executive order which will decimate, decimate public education in the state of Connecticut," said House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz.

Republicans said they're against raising taxes, their budget includes a spending cap and more cuts to government agencies. Republican Senate President Len Fasano said his process getting down to the last few minutes is wrong.

"A 600-page document given to lawmakers in just a few hours, no one has seen it. Everyone has been in a back room maybe vote 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. Senate at 5 a.m.," Fasano said. "What happened to the transparency?"

"We are at a crossroads, what we vote on today or tomorrow is going to change Connecticut for the good or the bad. We should at least be able to know what it is," said Minority Leader Themis Klarides.

In the meantime, cities and towns said they are anxiously awaiting.

"We have believed since the beginning of the session and we believe today that the best budget is going to be a bipartisan budget," said Joe Delong, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. "So as we continue down a path of one caucus not negotiating with another, we feel that's going to be problematic for the state of Connecticut."

Last week, Hartford’s mayor said without a plan from the state, the capital city may have to file for bankruptcy within a matter of days.

The budget includes $40 million and would create an oversight board.

"We are not looking for a bail out, we are not looking for a patch. We are looking for a partnership that builds framework that will allow us to do important restructuring we need to do,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.

He calls the Democrat’s budget an important first step.

Both sides have spent the last few days going over Malloy's latest proposal line by line.

“The urgency of the present moment cannot be overstated. It is critical that a responsible budget is passed by the General Assembly, one that provides greater predictability and stability for the people and businesses of Connecticut," Malloy said. "Local governments, community providers, parents, teachers and students – all of them are best served by passing a budget, and passing it now."

Malloy said he is pushing for lawmakers to act, but he acknowledged that progress has been made.

“I want to express my gratitude to Democratic leaders for their perseverance getting to this point. There is still much work to be done, final language to be reviewed, and a vote to be taken. But an agreement appears to be within sight. I await a vote by the General Assembly and a balanced budget arriving on my desk for signature," Malloy said.

Lawmakers said there's also a chance that there will be no vote.

The concern is that if Connecticut goes past Oct. 1 without a budget, Malloy will have no choice by to put another executive order in place that includes painful cuts.

Stay with Eyewitness News for continuing coverage of the state budget crisis.

Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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