Sen. Suzio: “Every legislator now has a clear choice.”

September 29, 2017

HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed the Republican-crafted budget on Thursday, continuing the longest budget stalemate in state history.

Malloy’s veto message highlighted the concerns he has been raising since the legislature adopted the budget, with support from eight Democrats, on Sept. 15.

“Unfortunately, this budget does not balance, risks potential litigation, and undermines our fiscal stability, educational system, and economic development efforts,” Malloy said in his message.

“Make no mistake, the governor has stamped his seal on this crisis faced by municipalities and people who depend on core state services,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, was equally critical, saying the move puts the state in “chaos.” Along with municipal aid cuts, Fasano said the lack of a budget means continued cuts for nonprofit social service providers. Without a budget, Malloy has been running the state through executive order.

“There are widespread implications of vetoing this budget and allowing the executive order to remain in effect that no one has a full understanding of yet,” he said.

Republicans also called on their Democratic colleagues to override Malloy’s veto.

“Every legislator now has a clear choice, support the Governor’s veto and the incredible suffering it will impose on everyone or support the bipartisan budget and steer Connecticut away from the disastrous policies of the failed Malloy Administration,” Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, said in a statement.

Republicans also held three press conferences around the state urging that their $40.7-billion budget, which passed with support from nine Democrats, be allowed to take effect.

Getting to an override will be difficult for Republicans, who garnered a 21-15 vote in the Senate and 78-72 vote in the House, as their budget would need to obtain a two-thirds majority in each chamber. That would require another 3 Democrats in the Senate and 23 Democrats in the House to side with them.

In a strongly worded, three-page veto message, Malloy said he vetoed the budget because many of the policy changes would adversely affect the state’s poorer residents.

“In fact, taking help away from those with the greatest need is a common theme in this budget,” he wrote. In particular, he said, the Republicans’ distribution of local aid unfairly benefits suburban towns, especially when accounting for total funding compared to the last fiscal year.

He said Hartford, which says it needs $40 million in additional help to avoid filing for bankruptcy, would lose $6.8 million overall, for example.

Malloy also said cuts to higher education, including the elimination of new scholarships, would particularly hurt poorer residents.

Additionally, Malloy was critical of the Republicans’ proposed labor savings, which would be based on changes to pension benefits that would take effect in 2027. He said the state cannot legally make changes through statute while an agreement remains in place, and the policies would lead to expensive legal challenges.

He referenced the $100 million settlement the state reached with state employees in 2015 stemming from a dispute over tactics used by former Gov. John G. Rowland. Malloy also said it would be fiscally irresponsible to bank on $312 million in savings over the two-year budget from policy changes that can’t yet take effect.

“Disguised as structural reform, these changes echo poor decisions of Connecticut’s past, when the state failed to make full payments on our existing commitments,” he said.