Malloy blasts Senate GOP leader over budget, says Fasano ‘sits in the cheap seats and throws shots and gets nothing done’

Malloy blasts Senate GOP leader over budget, says Fasano ‘sits in the cheap seats and throws shots and gets nothing done’

Record-Journal
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HARTFORD — Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano has requested Attorney General George Jepsen’s opinion on whether municipal aid cuts under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget are legal.

“While the state is unfortunately living without a budget for the fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2019 biennium and the governor is exercising his executive authority to continue the operations of the state of Connecticut, he is not above the Connecticut general statutes and must operate within existing statutory constraints,” Fasano, R-North Haven, wrote to Jepsen on Monday.

Fasano’s request comes just days after he said Malloy mistook the “governorship for a dictatorship,” reacting to revisions Malloy announced Friday to his executive order that would eliminate education funding to 85 towns should the state remain without a budget come October.

In an interview, Malloy said Monday he disagreed with the claim, and repeatedly accused Fasano and Republicans of having their cake and eating it too.

“I’m amazed, when you consider how much cake Len Fasano eats and has, too, that he’s not heavier than he is,” Malloy said during a Record-Journal “On the Record” podcast. “This is a guy who sits in the cheap seats and throws shots, and gets nothing done.”

He also said lawmakers should come together and pass a budget if they are unhappy with municipal funding levels under his executive order. Wednesday marks 53 days into the fiscal year without a budget, as lawmakers have yet to vote on a spending plan.

Lawmakers must close a $3.5 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years, and Malloy maintains that he would veto any of the existing proposals from both parties.

“By the way — why aren’t you doing your job?” Malloy said in response to Fasano’s letter to Jepsen. “Why aren’t we talking about a bipartisan budget? Get over yourself.”

Malloy had a similar criticism for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“Now people are realizing Republicans and Democrats are the problem because they haven’t done their job,” he said.

Fasano said in his letter that three elements of Malloy’s executive order fall outside the governor’s authority, beginning with his unilateral reduction of Education Cost Sharing grants. Along with the 85 towns that would see funding eliminated, another 54 would see reductions as part of an effort to preserve education aid to the state’s neediest school districts.

Malloy said the state currently has no ECS formula to dictate payments, and he believes his executive order meets the requirement in the state’s constitution for equal education opportunities.

Fasano also contends that Malloy is unlawfully withholding funds to be paid from the Municipal Revenue Sharing Account — generated by one-half cent of the sales tax — and by adjusting the cap on municipal motor vehicle tax rates.

The statewide cap, created as part of the last budget, is scheduled to drop from 37 mills to 32 mills, with towns exceeding the limit receiving state aid.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said Monday he supported Fasano’s letter, saying it’s worthwhile to seek Jepsen’s opinion.

“In this, particularly, we know what the executive orders do to our municipalities, so there’s no harm in really finding out what the deal is,” he said.

Aresimowicz said he doesn’t think Malloy is trying to use municipal aid to leverage a budget vote, but that lawmakers may be more inclined to make budgetary concessions in exchange for more funding to their districts.

Malloy’s revisions Friday reduced municipal aid by $243 million compared to last fiscal year. The original executive order signed on June 30 already cut $684 million.

While lawmakers remain hopeful they can get a budget deal before the first round of ECS payments are dispersed in early October, Malloy doesn’t share that optimism.

“This looks like it might not get done until October or later, in large part because people seem to be unwilling to accept reality,” he said.

msavino@record-journal.com 203-317-2266 Twitter: @reporter_savino


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