Newtown Republicans Call for Special Session to Fix Failing State Budget

October 14, 2015

Following calls by hospitals, advocates for the disabled, and many others for legislative action to address Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s recent devastating budget cuts, Newtown Republican legislators have all signed a petition seeking a special session of the General Assembly to rebuild the state budget.

On Tuesday (Oct. 13), a petition signed by Sen. Tony Hwang, Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, Rep. J.P. Sredzinski, Rep. Dan Carter and every Republican state lawmaker was submitted to the Office of the Secretary of the State.

If a majority of state lawmakers in the House and Senate chambers signs the petition, it will trigger a special session. To gain a majority, at least four Democrats in the Senate and 12 Democrats in the House will need to join Republicans in signing the petition. Thus far, the governor and Democrat leaders have denied Republicans’ requests to hold a special session.

“We hope majority Democrats will do the right thing for the people and not politics. We need to convene a special session to prevent devastating cuts to services for the sick, the elderly, and the disadvantaged,” Sen. Hwang said. “So far, they have resisted. Their hesitation will result in job losses and reduced access to health care for the neediest patients. Each day that goes by, Gov. Malloy and legislative Democrats have an opportunity to protect medical care for the poor, our seniors and the infirm. Each day that goes by, the most vulnerable residents of Connecticut will suffer more and more. Let’s get back to work.”

“The budget that was rammed through the legislature in early June was clearly not well thought out by the majority party,” Rep. Sredzinski said. “Here we are, three months later and the Governor has already found the need to chop over $100 million from the budget. While I agree adjustments need to be made, I disagree that these cuts should be directed to the hospitals, Medicaid reimbursements and those seeking mental health services. All we are asking is to have a discussion, a dialogue on what to do next. A special session would allow for that discussion to occur by those in the General Assembly elected to serve on behalf of the citizens.”

“I am hopeful the Governor and Democrat leaders stand by their promises to pursue mental health improvements in our state by reconsidering our request to hold a special session,” Rep. Carter said. “This is a momentous moment in the history of the Connecticut Legislature, and I hope that we can conquer it with bipartisan support and prevent future tragedies by ensuring mental health care is available.”

“I don’t get it!” Rep. Bolinsky said. “From the governor’s original budget to today, we continue to see cuts to services critical to our state’s most vulnerable residents. Each time, we in the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Caucus come together in opposition to the cuts and eventually get all or most of this important funding restored, only to have the rug pulled out from under us in another round of cruel, unilateral cuts. The story’s been similar when it’s come to reductions in Medicaid reimbursements and spiraling tax increases to our hospitals. These burdens hit programs that serve the community in the form of care for the uninsured, elderly and mentally ill. It also strikes an economic blow to middle class hospital workers, in the form of layoffs. None of this political hardball considers the impact of this continued stress on people and the greater good of families, businesses and Connecticut’s very economic viability.”

Rep. Bolinsky added, “It’s time to have all sides pull up a chair and discuss common goals for the kind of state we want to be. We have got to become open to ideas from both sides of the aisle and willing to respect our differences to craft a new way of balancing our state’s budget based on realistic revenue and expenditure analyses, rather than the piecemeal approach that’s being employed today.”

The petition calls for a special session, “To make adjustments to the state budget for the biennium beginning July 1, 2015, including adjustments to restore Medicaid funding and other state support for hospitals, health care and other services.”

The General Assembly can be called in to a special session by the governor or by majority party legislative leaders. However, if rank and file legislators demonstrate that a majority in both chambers deem it necessary to meet in special session, they can initiate a session themselves.

The governor’s $103 million in cuts include millions in cuts to mental health and substance abuse services and programs that help those with disabilities – all areas that were already slashed in the Democrats’ budget. It also includes $64 million in Medicaid cuts that directly affect hospitals and translate to a loss of $128 million in federal dollars.