Connecticut GOP lawmakers urge Dems to agree to special session

October 13, 2015

CT News Junkie/NH Register

Republican lawmakers wrote their Democratic colleagues again Friday and asked them to take a stand against Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s recent emergency budget cuts and to hold a special session to enact their own.

“It’s obvious now that the governor purposefully negotiated a failing budget with you so he could unilaterally implement his own plans when shortfalls began to emerge,” Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, wrote in a letter to Democratic leaders. “He was well aware problems would arise down the road, and he was ready to act on his own when the time came.”

Fasano and Klarides were referring to the proposed hospital cuts the Democrats restored during negotiations with the Malloy administration over the two-year budget approved in June. Democrats were also successful in restoring some of the money for the Department of Development Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, both agencies saw their budget reduced about $6.3 million and $5.9 million, respectively.

Rep. Catherine Abercrombie, D-Meriden, has suggested the governor use transportation money to spare spending cuts to the developmentally disabled and Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, has suggested state employee furloughs to save money.

In an attempt to play Democratic lawmakers against their governor, Republicans told Democratic leaders that “the governor got his way in the end by exacting unilateral cuts on these vital services. Without your actions, he will get away with these cuts and their devastating impact will spread across the state.”

But Democratic leaders like Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said Republican calls for a special session ring hollow.

He said they continue to say they need to be in the room to negotiate and offer ideas, but they will never vote for final product.

“How do you negotiate with people who are committed to voting against any budget?” Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said. “It is one thing to hold a press conference, it is another to actually step up and propose a viable, balanced budget. Press conferences aren’t budgets, and their proposal was so badly out of balance that it could not have been taken seriously.”

Looney and Duff complained that the budget Republicans offered in April was out of balance shortly after it was proposed due to a change in revenue projections. They said if they had been serious they would have adjusted their proposal. They said Republicans never called their budget for a vote in committee or on the floor of the House or Senate.

Republicans said they don’t believe this will be the first round of rescissions Malloy announces this year. They said the budget has the potential to fall short by more than $300 million, while the governor only has the authority to cut an additional $340 million.

“As we have seen already, he is not afraid to use this authority even when facing a bipartisan outcry against cuts that hurt the most vulnerable,” Fasano and Klarides said. “So where do you think he will cut next when another shortfall appears? While you stay silent, the governor can continue targeting the poor, the sick and the elderly with hundreds of millions in future cuts.”

Democratic lawmakers will be informally proposing an alternative set of budget rescissions to the Malloy administration next week.