Bipartisan State Budget Talks Start [NBC]

October 27, 2015

NBC Connecticut

When all of the top Democrats and Republicans emerged from the short but significant one-hour initial session, they all agreed that they had to do one thing first before they discussed actual budget plans: they have to figure out how much a deficit the state is really facing.
“The only issue we’re dealing with right now is coming to an agreement on what the deficit is,” said Rep.Themis Klarides, (R-Derby), the House Minority leader.

Sen. Martin Looney, the top member of the Connecticut Senate said there are differing estimates from the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Office of Policy and Management and from Republicans.

Specific spending reductions and potential policy shifts were not discussed behind closed doors.

Sen. Len Fasano (R- North Haven) said, “Republican, Democrat, Governor we all want to put this state back on track. We want to bring all of the ideas to the table and share them. See what we can find as common ground and committed to find that common ground.”
Fasano has said publicly that his estimates have the state facing a $400 million hole or greater.

Rep. Brendan Sharkey, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives had some of the most pointed remarks regarding the governor’s $102 million in cuts announced last month and the GOP’s participation.

“They brought good faith to the table,” Rep. Sharkey (D – Hamden) said following the discussions.
Sharkey had proposed in recent weeks to slash 2.5 percent of all spending in order to meet savings goals. He said the specifics of that plan were not discussed Monday.

“If that’s part of the ultimate solution, I don’t know,” Sharkey said. “That’s part of what this discussion is going to be all about.”
Gov. Malloy said now that people are actually discussing what to do, he’s looking forward to seeing real alternatives presented.
“People say they have different ideas. I’ve invited them to the table” Malloy said. “We don’t have to have a debate about the shape of the table but we want to talk about how much money it is, so take a week and let’s get that done.”