Westport Republicans Call for Special Session to Fix Failing State Budget

October 15, 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, Westport 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, Sen. Toni Boucher, Rep. Gail Lavielle 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 current budget is a mess,” said Sen. Boucher. “The most vulnerable in our society are suffering because the cuts are now being done without regard to priorities. We must change how the state spends taxpayer dollars. If we don’t act on behalf of the residents of Connecticut now, the Governor will keep exercising painful cuts at will. I urge Democrats to stand with Republicans and sign this petition so that we can go into special session and work collaboratively to fix this mess.”

“These cuts will hurt thousands of people, among them the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and the mentally ill, and they don’t reflect any responsible or clear set of priorities,” said Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143). “We have to ask why, after the two largest tax increases in the state’s history, residents are paying so much more for government services that are getting worse and providing so much less. Cutting a little here and a little there every few months is not a strategic, responsible way of either managing a budget or delivering services. As legislators, it’s our job to face the budget’s structural problems and to correct them for the benefit of all of Connecticut’s residents. I stand ready to do this by joining colleagues from both sides of the aisle in a special session to build a solution together with all the urgency that the state’s fiscal situation requires.”

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.