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State legislators finally have a budget – that Malloy has promised to veto

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) talks to reporters Friday in an interview broadcast on CT-N.

NORWALK, Conn. — The Democratic-dominated state legislature passed a Republican budget Friday.

It has “more gimmicks in there than I think should be allowed in any kind of a budget,” State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said in an interview broadcast on CT-N, repeating assertions made earlier this week that Gov. Dannel Malloy will never sign the budget.

While State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) ballyhooed the budget on Facebook, gaining kudos and support, State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140), who is running for mayor, released a statement in the wee hours of Saturday morning damning the budget.

“Time is running out and we need to vote on a budget the Governor will sign – he has said he will veto this budget,” Morris said in the release. “That makes this nothing more than a political document that does not meet the needs of the citizens of Connecticut and continues to jeopardize revenues that have been agreed upon in the Democrat’s budget with the Governor.”

Norwalk would lose $3.9 million in Priority School District grant funding alone, Morris said.

Laveille, in an early Saturday Facebook message, said the budget now goes to Malloy.

Malloy at 8:08 p.m. released a statement saying he would not sign the budget.

“You all know this governor, he is not going to sign a budget that is put together with superglue and tape,” Duff said in another CT-N interview, before the Senate voted Friday afternoon.

A Friday afternoon Tweet tells part of the story from the Connecticut Statehouse.

Lavielle, in the early Saturday Facebook conversation, said, “In my experience, most legislators vote for something because they think it’s right — not because of how they think someone else will vote on it. It is now up to the governor to decide whether or not he wants to hold up the budget process and to prolong the duration of his executive order — something he has said that he does not want to see happen.

“This is a critical juncture for our state, and what happens now will affect everyone in Connecticut,” Lavielle said on the House GOP website.

Duff, earlier this week stood alongside House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, and Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin in a 10-minute interview broadcast on CT-N, and said nothing.

Ritter said that if the legislature somehow approved the Republican budget, “{H}e would veto it. ‘Oct. 1st’ would happen,” meaning that Malloy’s executive order would remain in place, and the Republican “member towns would be decimated in a way they have never seen. Schools closing, massive layoffs, inability to pay bills. It makes no sense, it defies logic.”

Looney described “Oct. 1” as “going to go over the cliff” and Aresimowicz warned of “an exercise in political gamesmanship and the state of Connecticut cannot afford that right now.”

On Friday afternoon, three Democratic senators voted with Republicans to approve the Republican budget.

“This budget is not some sort of fairy tale ending to a budget crisis,” Duff said in a CT-N interview, describing the Republican offering as “$1.5 Billion of unknown labor savings,”
tax increases and gimmicks.

The Republican budget is “over 1000 pages long, that we did not see until the end of the debate today from the Republicans,” Duff said.

“They didn’t even know what’s in it and they voted for it,” Duff said. “We have been extremely transparent about our process throughout the entire session. We have had caucus after caucus after caucus, we brought people in, we asked their opinions. We have done everything we could to accommodate every member who had a request, the best that we could under the financial circumstance and strains that we have in the state.  We produced document that we thought included everybody’s concerns and issues to the best of our ability, and yet the Republicans have a budget today that has tax increases, that has crippling cuts to UConn… that has more gimmicks in there than I think should be allowed in any kind of a budget. Don’t let them say this is some sort of pure budget… because it’s absolutely not.”

Charges of a lack of transparency come from both sides.

Democrats promised a budget Thursday and finally released a document at 6 a.m. Friday.

“It is 914 pages, and we’re all trying to read it as fast as we can,” Lavielle posted at 2:10 p.m.

On the GOP page, she said:

  • “Majority Democrats have told their members and the public that legislators have only two choices: vote for the budget they did not publish until early this morning, or allow the governor’s Executive Order to take effect. This is not true: the Republican budget provides a solid alternative.
  • “The Republican budget includes no new taxes, protects education funding, and restores and preserves funding for essential services like those for people with intellectual disabilities, the elderly, and the mentally ill. It also includes structural changes to state government that will restore fiscal stability and put the state’s economy on a sustainable path for the long term.
  • “The entire budget process has been conducted in a way that is disrespectful to every resident of Connecticut.”

 

Morris voted against it, according to the press release.

The press release said:

The Republican Budget:

 

  • Triples the cut to earned Income Tax Credit, hurting the working poor.
  • Eliminates essential kindergarten through third grade reading assessments
  • Eliminates the Angel Investor Tax Credit, stifling small business and entrepreneurship

 

A Friday afternoon Tweet.

“They claim this budget provides equity in education funding – however, it eliminates Priority School District Grant (PSD) and Commissioner’s network grants that are vital to poor districts working to reduce the achievement gap,” Rep. Morris said. “Norwalk loses $3.9 million in just the PSD grant alone and millions are eliminated for the 14 Districts in greatest need. It further eliminates the Special Education Excess Cost Formula that all districts rely upon to pay for Special Education services. They claim the costs have been bundled into their new ECS formula, however, the net loss to cities like Norwalk proves otherwise.”

 

In the area of education, the GOP budget:

 

  • Eliminates funding at SDE for teacher shortages and minority teacher recruitment
  • Eliminates Minority Advancement Program in Higher Ed
  • Eliminates Minority Teacher Incentive Program
  • Cuts additional $15 million in scholarship funds
  • Changes course loads at UConn that could jeopardize their status as a research institution
  • Eliminates Adult Education support at SDE
  • Defunds Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership (LEAP) at SDE
  • Eliminates classroom funding, expertise and support for bilingual education

 

The budget includes a combined cut of $309 million for UConn and UConn Health over the biennium that includes $185 million for the Storrs and regional campuses and $124 million for UConn Health, jeopardizing its continued operation. These cuts will result in major tuition increases – combined with cuts in financial aid, a UConn education would be unaffordable for many Connecticut families.

The budget also cuts anti-poverty programs:

 

  • Cuts grants to distressed municipalities ($4.9m)
  • Eliminates Job Funnels Project
  • Eliminates Opportunities for long term unemployed
  • Eliminates Two Generation initiative at DOL
  • Defunds education and training, financial support, employment services for neediest residents (DSS cuts to Safety Net Services and Human Resource Development)
  • Eliminates School Based Diversion program at SDE
  • Cuts to Health Programs
  • Eliminates Teen Pregnancy Program at DSS
  • Eliminates Primary Mental Health at SDE

 

“Eliminating programs that are vital to many cities and towns is not the answer. We cannot continue to operate under the Governor’s painful executive orders,” Rep. Morris added. “The political ploy to force a vote on a budget that is predetermined to be vetoed is irresponsible.”

 

Malloy’s press release said:

“I believe the amended budget that passed in the Senate today is unbalanced, and if it were to reach my desk I would veto it. It relies on too many unrealistic savings, it contains immense cuts to higher education, and it would violate existing state contracts with our employees, resulting in costly legal battles for years to come. If the responsible solution I negotiated with Democrats isn’t going to pass, then it is incumbent on the legislature to reach a new agreement soon – one that is realistic and, ideally, bipartisan.

“Today’s vote in the legislature was a surprise, and it may represent a shift in the dynamic of the General Assembly. But it isn’t a shift for me. I have consistently been in favor of reaching a sensible, realistic budget – one that is balanced honestly and that continues to make progress on Connecticut’s long-term fiscal challenges. Those are not partisan goals, nor should they be. It’s why I began inviting all legislative leaders – Democrat and Republican – into my office last year, well before this session began. And it’s why I continued those meetings throughout the regular session.

“My door remains open, and I remain ready to work with all sides. We know our financial problems will get significantly worse in October, resulting in massive cuts to towns, hospitals, private providers, and others. Connecticut is counting on us – let’s keep working.”

16 comments

Bryan Meek September 16, 2017 at 5:33 am

AccuBob finally has something to say about a budget. He had 6 moths to read this budget, but then goes on to say how transparent his one is…..the one they just released yesterday a few hours before it failed to get the votes it needed. It had scores of earmarks, funding for new government departments and agencies, and is based on the same type of revenue forecasts that have been falling short for years.

This GOP one may not be the best budget, but the reality is we are all screwed if we don’t turn around the state’s finances. A few million here and there is not the end of the world compared to billions upon billions of lost dollars in property values. If we have to raise taxes a few hundred dollars on the local level, that is far better than continuing to watch our homes lose 100s of thousands in value never to be recovered. If you think that can’t happen, you have missed what has happened to cities like Detroit and Bridgeport, which were at one time some of the richest cities in the country.

Hopefully this is a sign to the business and investment communities that Connecticut is serious about it’s spending problems and views government as a service not as an entitlement.

The Governor can veto this if he wants to cement his legacy as the worst governor in the history of the state. Or he can sign it and get serious about right sizing our government for what is left of his lame duck career.

SIGN or RESIGN Governor Malloy.

Donna Smirniotopoulos September 16, 2017 at 9:56 am

The headline should read, “Duff Talks.” I don’t get the impression anyone up in Hartford is really of a mind to compromise and get a budget passed. At least Bruce Morris explains why he did not sign this budget, rather than the lame excuse, “I know the governor won’t sign it.”

I may not agree with all of Morris’s reasoning. I see some painful cuts to Norwalk but some others that might be in order. Hard for me to judge from my position of ignorance which social safety net programs are worth it and which are wasteful. But based on cuts to the State Department of Education alone, I’d have to conclude the SDE was mighty bloated to begin with and cuts are in order.

Fred Wilms September 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

I am very proud to have been a leader in helping with the GOP budget. Our budget, which was passed with Democratic support in both the House and Senate, has the following features:

No tax increases.
Increases total aid to Norwalk by $998,464 the first year and $1,856,814 the second year.
Fully Balanced.
No gimmicks.
No earmarks (payoffs to individual legislative districts for playing political ball with their leaders) except for one.
Paid for by further realigning State employee compensation towards private sector levels.
Actuarial assumptions reviewed and signed off by a professional actuary firm.
Does not bail out Hartford, which in my opinion has an unsustainable cost structure.
Funds important social services such as Meals on Wheels,etc.
Implements the Spending Cap and a Bonding Cap.
Prioritizes Transportation projects for future bonding purposes.

Our budget passed the House this morning 77-73 with the support of five courageous democratic colleagues.

Of Norwalk’s legislative delegation: Wood, Lavielle and myself voted YES – while Perone, Morris and Duff voted NO. I have reviewed Senator Duff’s objections and find them to be incomprehensible.

Like our budget or not, the reality is the Hartford democratic leadership that has been running our beautiful State has failed to get the job done. Furthermore there is a reason why Dan Malloy is one of the worst rated Governors in the entire USA.
In response the House & Senate GOP, along with our brave democratic colleagues, offer a striking new approach – one that starts the journey out of our fiscal crisis and starts turning this beautiful State around.

Tom Keegan September 16, 2017 at 10:35 am

Mr. Wilms…your statement reads, “no earmarks except for one”…who is the one…. and why did 77 state representatives think that this particular district was entitled to special consideration?

Fred Wilms September 16, 2017 at 10:53 am

Hi Tom, I realized my statement almost begs for your question!! The town of Groton, which is home to the Coast Guard Academy. Hundreds of their students utilize base housing for which no property tax is paid. The earmark is compensatory for that. Our approach is to seek no earmarks in general – but if we do one – to publicly itemize (which we did on the House floor).

Donna Smirniotopoulos September 16, 2017 at 11:28 am

@Fred Wilms, thank you and other Norwalk reps for supporting a budget that moves the state forward. As I look through the list of cuts, I see programs that perhaps should never have been funded to begin with. It is possible to support the practice of minority hiring, for instance, and not have to fund this at the state level through the SDE. What exactly is the teen pregnancy program at DSS, and how much does it cost taxpayers? How much does Norwalk depend on state funding for bilingual education, and how effective is this program? Just looking at the proposed cuts, it’s easy to see that CT has operated a luxury budget funded through tax dollars. I hope Governor Malloy, who does not intend to run again, will sign this budget and move us forward.

Pamela Parkington September 16, 2017 at 11:31 am

“The Republican budget would also eliminate the Citizens Election Program (CEP) while increasing the amount of money corporations could contribute to election campaigns. The CEP, which was passed with Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s approval following her predecessor Gov. John G. Rowland’s corruption conviction, has been credited with creating a more even playing field for candidates to run for public office.” CT News Junkie

Been there done that.

Joe September 16, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Thanks to Rep Wilms and everyone who voted for this budget.

This is the beginning of the end of the usual monkey business in the state of Connecticut.

And I still believe that the corruption and bad decisions won’t end until all of our politicians only be paid expenses and do their duty for one dollar.

Patrick Cooper September 16, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Only hindsight provides some clue as to the games played by our state legislatures. One has to wonder why SEBAC was negotiated first? As I read this – the GOP budget suggests labor cost cuts that are not possible due to the new SEBAC agreement, and Malloy is saying he can’t sign the budget because they will be illegal, and we don’t need google to recall the 300 million we taxpayers swallowed due to Rowlands egregious errors.

Further – @Pamela Parkington – good catch with CEP. Sorry Fred, respect you but the dark money is the root of every evil in politics now – Citizens United is a joke – corporations are not people entitled to free speech, and this flow of money is only making our entire country less democratic. It goes to show you there is no good side to our political parties – like saying Crips are better than Bloods – when both are gangs.

If you think that’s crazy – why the shock when three legislators “broke” with their party and voted their conscious. GOP smiling now – not so much when Murkowski, Collins, and McCain ended the travesty that was Repeal/Replace health care. Working Parties is already lining up far-left pro-union candidates as payback. Duff Duff Duff is horrified because he knows he’ll get creamed inside his party for not controlling the feral cats – but not a negative word from fellow dems on how he can’t do simple arithmetic.

Folks – listen up. Bill Parcells the football coach once said – you are what your record says you are. It’s time for a reality check. There are 50 states. We are behind Mississippi right now – 50th place. We have spent money we didn’t have, taxed residents to the point of exodus, and created a partisan political climate where nothing gets done. Be ashamed. We have multiple cities – Hartford, Bridgeport, Waterbury, New Brittan, that are mosh-pits of despair. And there is no accountability – this failure has not cost a single legislative member his/her paycheck, or god forbid – lifetime benefits.

Norwalk – we can’t fix the state – but we can fix us. Get POLITICS out of city hall. Stop the gang war. It’s not blue versus red – it’s US. Let’s elect a non-political candidate to take this city back to focusing on smart, thoughtful planning and execution. We have to – Hartford is financially and morally bankrupt.

Rick September 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Duff, the Senate majority leader, scoffed at the notion that the vote would place the General Assembly on track to a bipartisan budget resolution.

“Let’s be frank about this,” Duff said. “This budget is not some sort of fairy tale ending to a budget crisis.

Fred still waiting on Quintard ave for you to step up to the plate and become our rep. Your not out of the woods yet.

US Blues September 16, 2017 at 3:22 pm

“They didn’t even know what’s in it and they voted for it,” Duff said.

Yup, sounds just like the democraps when they signed Flubamas Health care act….

Fred Wilms September 16, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Hi Pamela & Patrick,

You make fair points about the CEP program.

As a practical matter, we recognize there is no way to get 100% agreement on our Budget. Hundreds of pages long, with thousands of line items and roughly $20 billion of spending items, it is impractical to expect anything close to that.

So we are keeping track of public comments on individual items – kind of like we do for public hearings. As these comments collect we will be revisiting to see where we can tweak or modify. CEP may become one of them.

Finally if the Governor decides he wants to negotiate with the GOP, I imagine that CEP might be one of the discussion points in those negotiations.

Barbara Meyer-Mitchell September 17, 2017 at 9:35 am

Fred, can you speak to what the total cuts to Norwalk’s Education budget would be? I understand we only lose ~$79k in ECS/SPED,but Bruce Morris’ statement says this budget cuts Priority School District Grants, which means we lose $3.9million. What becomes of the Alliance funding? What is the full impact? It may be a moot point, if the Governor vetoes the budget, but it is important for Norwalk that you fight for these funding dollars during any negotiations for a compromise budget. Thank you, as always, for your service and communication.

Natalie Hazell September 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm

I’m a Democrat and have been for most of my life. I’m now 65 and worked for more than 40 years. Unfortunately, now Im on Social Security Disability, Medicare, and Husky.

At this point I think the Republican budget is better than NO budget and that Gov Malloy is abusing his power!!

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