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Connecticut Lawmakers Pass 'Historic' Budget Deal; Gov. Malloy Pledges Careful Review

Oct 26, 2017
Originally published on October 27, 2017 1:27 pm

A compromise budget passed Thursday in the Connecticut House of Representatives, 126-23. Earlier, the $41.3 billion budget overwhelmingly passed the state Senate, 33-3.

"We did compromise on some areas, but overall, I think it's a good budget that will move Connecticut forward," said House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz after the vote.

During debate, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides said the budget plan is not perfect. But after the vote, she indicated there's a time to be partisan, and a time to compromise.

"My goal is not to be bipartisan. My goal is to get the best budget for the state of Connecticut," she said. "The things we got in this budget, and the things we stopped, are unprecedented."

Governor Dannel Malloy has not indicated whether he'll support the budget bill. In a statement after the budget passed the House, he said he'll give the bill careful review.

From the statement:

Since January, Governor Malloy has been calling on the legislature to take action to adopt a balanced and responsible budget. We recognize that they believe that they have achieved this end and are now sending a budget to him for his consideration and we appreciate their work. At the same time, it is incumbent on the Governor and his administration to carefully review this budget – a complete document of nearly 900 pages that was made available only a few minutes before it was called on the floor. Unfortunately, our review has already uncovered egregious problems relating to the hospital tax that could put the state budget out of balance by over a billion dollars. Staff will continue to analyze the bill, weighing its merits and faults, so that the Governor can arrive at an informed and carefully considered decision regarding his support.

Malloy's options include signing the bill into law, or vetoing it -- which could push legislative leaders to prepare for a veto override.

Lawmakers have repeatedly called the budget "historic" because of its support from both Democrats and Republicans in the state. It's Connecticut's first bipartisan budget in about a decade.

GOP state Rep. Chris Davis of Ellington said he's supportive of the budget proposal because "it truly is a compromise" that will "move this state forward."

During debate Thursday, GOP state Rep. Sam Belsito of Tolland said the proposed budget is not the best possible spending plan, but it's the "best we have right now."

From The CT Mirror's report after the Senate vote:

The new budget would direct Malloy to achieve $1.96 billion in savings after the two-year plan is in force, much of it coming from state-employee concessions he already negotiated with unions. And while those targets, collectively are $114 million larger than the already aggressive goals Malloy proposed, they also are $142 million less than savings goals Republican legislators wanted to set.

In the first year, the plan would boost General Fund spending by $875 million, or 4.9 percent, over appropriations from the last fiscal year. But that growth is deceptive, because nearly $190 million of that involves extra payments to hospitals that would be more than offset by tax hikes on the industry and increased federal Medicaid payments.

Connecticut has been without a budget in place since the fiscal year began July 1. Malloy has been running the state using his limited executive spending authority.

This report includes information from the Associated Press.

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