July 15, 2017 04:19PM
By Mike Savino,
HARTFORD — House Democrats Friday backed off plans for a budget vote next week, saying they still need to build more support.
“Talks with the governor’s office, Senate Democrats, and Republicans have all progressed, and we remain focused on a bipartisan agreement to the current budget challenge, but that result is not going to be ready for action by Tuesday,” House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said in a statement.
That means the state will continue to operate under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget executive order for the foreseeable future as lawmakers remain in disagreement over how to close a projected $5 billion deficit over the next two years.
A Malloy spokeswoman called the stalemate “regrettable,” but expressed appreciation that legislative leaders continue to negotiate toward a bipartisan solution.
“There is still a great deal of work to be done in order to find common ground,” Kelly Donnelly said in a statement. “The governor remains committed to a solution that cuts spending before raising revenue and that achieves a fairer, more equitable system for town aid.”
When House Democrats unveiled their budget proposal on June 29, they stated their intention to have a session Tuesday to vote on it. As recently as this week, Aresimowicz said he was “hopeful” that the vote would still occur.
House Democrats will instead hold a caucus to update members on negotiations, with a new goal of voting on the budget before the end of the month.
“We have made progress and I remain optimistic that we will pass a budget by July 31,” Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said in the same statement. “I expect an engaging House Democratic caucus on Tuesday and continued work with the Senate Democrats, Governor and House and Senate Republicans as we move closer to a compromise.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, echoed Ritter’s statement that “the parties have made significant progress.”
“We believe that it is realistically possible that a budget package could be voted on by the end of July,” he said.
The House Democrats’ proposal is one of three lawmakers have presented for the upcoming biennium. Senate Republicans asked for a vote on their plan on the last day of the legislative session, but were rebuffed by Democrats.
House Republicans, meanwhile, said Monday that they submitted their budget to become an official bill, allowing them to offer it as an amendment to any spending plan that is introduced for a vote.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said the announcement is “not really surprising,” and her caucus still wants to vote on its budget.
“It is no secret that there is disagreement among Democrats on taxes and spending,” Klarides also said.
Malloy has said he would veto any of current budget proposals if they reached his desk.
House Democrats also said they plan to hold a veto session on July 24 to consider overriding any of Malloy’s vetoes. As of Friday, Malloy has vetoed four bills.