Malloy doesn’t buy talk of progress in budget talks; Fasano calls governor’s ‘comments from the sidelines’ unproductive

Malloy doesn’t buy talk of progress in budget talks; Fasano calls governor’s ‘comments from the sidelines’ unproductive

Record-Journal


HARTFORD — Despite a declaration from legislative leaders that a bipartisan budget agreement will be reached in the coming days, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday that “it’s apparent” lawmakers “remain hundreds of millions of dollars apart.”

Malloy, after watching legislative leaders talk with reporters Thursday, also called it “frustrating” that the state is “about to blow through a date that was largely recognized by everyone” as a key deadline.

Malloy had said he wanted a budget by Oct. 13, but House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said Democratic leaders are now asking caucus members to make themselves available for the week of Oct. 23 for a possible vote.

“I think it’s time for people to realize we’ve done damage to Connecticut by not having a budget in place by June 30,” Malloy said. “... every day that goes on, it gets worse.”

The state continues to operate under Malloy’s executive order while lawmakers negotiate a plan to balance a projected $3.5 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years.

The legislature adopted the GOP-crafted budget on Sept. 15, but Malloy vetoed that plan two weeks later.

Malloy’s comments came less than an hour after Democrats and Republicans expressed optimism after nearly a week of negotiating without the governor present. Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said the two sides are getting “closer and closer,” and have asked their respective budget-writing committee leaders to fine-tune elements of a bipartisan budget.

He also said they continued to look at an Education Cost Sharing grant formula.

“We are definitely headed in an absolute right direction,” said Fasano, who also represents Wallingford. “There’s still more hurdles to go, but we have worked out a lot of our differences.”

He replied to Malloy’s remarks with a statement that the governor’s “snide comments from the sidelines are extremely unproductive,” and credited Democratic leaders with working toward a bipartisan compromise.

“The governor has been nothing but an impediment to the budget process, and it has been helpful to remove him from our conversations,” Fasano said.

Malloy countered that he was simply expressing the views of Connecticut residents.

“I suppose what I’m taking is a moment to express the frustrations that people must be feeling in their homes tonight,” he said.

Malloy said his pessimism is based on a lack of details from legislative leaders.

He believes the two parties remain at an impasse on ECS formulas and how to address the underfunding of the teachers’ retirement system.

He also questioned whether Republicans had relented on their level of cuts to higher education or call for changes to state employee pensions in 2027.

Lawmakers said they aren’t releasing details because of the ongoing negotiations.

“Unfortunately this is a lot of hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute, line-by-line work that has to be done, or we can’t figure out if we’re going to come to an agreement,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said.

Malloy said his frustration stems from the fact that a lack of a budget — Connecticut is now 104 days into the fiscal year — presents “a lot of compounding difficulties” for the state.

Those problems include the continuation of deep cuts under the executive order for nonprofit organizations and towns, the loss of revenue, and an image problem as the state tries to recruit companies.

Fasano criticized Malloy for his veto of the Republican budget.

“His decisions are starving nonprofits and killing core social services,” Fasano said.

“His actions are devastating schools and leading to teacher layoffs and pain throughout our towns and cities. Governor Malloy’s actions have created the fiscal problems that have been scaring businesses and jobs away from our state for years.”

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


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