The two political parties have cooperated on budget issues over the last few months, but a tough fiscal outlook will likely test the strength of that relationship.
Lawmakers have a projected $245 million deficit waiting for them as return to the Capitol today to begin the 2018 legislative session.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said the deficit, driven by underperforming revenue, will put a strain on bipartisanship.
“I think that, with less money, there’s more arguing and discussion of priorities,” said Fasano, whose district includes Wallingford. Fasano and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, are featured in the sixth and final installment of the Morning Record’s legislative preview series.
The episode of the Morning Record, the Record-Journal’s daily news podcast, airs today at www.myrecordjournal.com.
Aresimowicz said the legislature needs to work in a bipartisan way to find solutions. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, “isn’t helping” by saying that she’s eyeing his leadership role.
“I understand people have political aspirations,” Aresimowicz said. “I don’t. I have aspirations for Connecticut.”
The projected deficit exceeds the threshold that requires Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to submit a plan for legislative approval. On Monday, Malloy unveiled a $266.3 million plan, a combination of cuts and revenue changes.
Aresimowicz said taxes and revenues need to be part of the equation, disagreeing with those who say government should operate “more like a business.”
“We’re not a business, we provide much needed services to the people of the state of Connecticut,” he said.
Fasano said tax increases are “the reason why we’re losing revenue.”
The two legislative leaders also talked about transportation funding, economic development, and politics.
Fasano said he expects Democrats to submit legislation trying “to drape (President Donald) Trump all over us,” but he believes Connecticut’s problems are too big for that.
“If we had money, and no real problems, (I’d) say ‘go have fun,’ but we’ve got serious problems,” he said.
“To play political games by making up laws, just to play I gotcha moments is just absurd and childish, quite frankly.”
Aresimowicz said that he’s “been very consistent, and I will be very consistent moving forward, that we do our best work together, that infusing the political environment nationally into the Connecticut legislature doesn’t help anybody.”
He also said, though, that “the purest way to show voters where you stand is to vote on something.”
To hear the interviews, visit http://bit.ly/2E6vP7p