Budget Battle Continues as Democrats Meet [NBC]

June 24, 2015

Members of the House Democratic caucus gathered in the office of the House Speaker Brendan Sharkey to discuss the next steps when it comes to crafting the state’s biennium budget.

While the General Assembly did approve a $40 billion two-year spending plan, the next issue has to do with “implementers,” laws that must be passed in order for the budget to go into effect.

Sharkey wouldn’t discuss what was talked about during an hours-long caucus.

He did say that members have received numerous phone calls and messages from their constituents who have worries about further spending cuts that have been proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy.

“I think the public has made very clear what its concerns are and that’s what we’re trying to reflect in a final package. There is no public hearing process in the context of a special session,” Sharkey said.

Democrats barely had enough votes to pass the budget at the close of the legislative session.

When the budget did pass, large corporations like General Electric, Aetna, Travelers and Stanley Black & Decker wrote letters to the governor with harsh criticism of corporate tax increases contained in the budget. Some companies even threatened to leave Connecticut in search of new locations for their corporate headquarters.
In the days following the session, Gov. Malloy proposed rolling back the business taxes while simultaneously cutting spending across all state services by 1.5 percent.

Republicans held a press conference to criticize the Democrats who have held meetings behind closed doors amongst themselves and with the governor for weeks. They argue that the budget has been crafted without any public oversight.

“The original budget was done in darkness and then last week there was a press meeting as I understand it in which there were going to be changes to revenue, whatever the heck that means, without one light of day,” said state Sen. Len Fasano, a Republican from North Haven, “without anybody knowing what the heck that even means.”

State Rep. Themis Klarides, a Republican from Derby who serves as the House minority leader, reiterated her call for the governor to wipe the slate clean and start a new budget process.

“We’re going to continue to ask the governor to do the right thing and either veto this budget or to call on the legislators and say enough is enough,” she said.

Sharkey disagrees. He describes the cries of Republicans as “noise” and even accused them of deliberately working to hurt Connecticut’s reputation in a sort of political game. Perception, Sharkey says, can quickly become someone’s reality.

“Perception clearly does and the Republicans are not helping on that frankly. If their concern really is the perception of the state of Connecticut and those on Wall Street and those around the country well then they shouldn’t be perpetuating the hyperbole that they are,” Sharkey said.

Lawmakers will meet next Monday for the start of a Special Session to finalize implementers for the budget.