State Budget Vote Close

May 2, 2011

Governor Dannel Malloy and his Democratic counterparts in the state legislature say they expect final votes on the state budget early this week. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, concessions talks between the state and its labor unions have still not yielded results. Democrats in the state legislature are ready to pass a roughly $40 billion, two-year budget -- despite concerns from their Republican colleagues.  Don Williams is the state senate president.  He says that the budget that cuts spending and raises some taxes won't raise taxes on gas.  "We heard from folks about the proposed increase in the gas tax and agreed that this is the wrong time to have that three cent per gallon increase." Still, the budget includes a $2 billion hole -- as Malloy's administration continues its concessions talks with state labor unions. "If for whatever reason there's no agreement or there's a shortfall in what they can obtain in concessions then the legislature and the governor will work together to put together the necessary steps to balance that budget." Mark Pazniokas covers the capitol for the Connecticut Mirror. He says passing the budget without an agreement with labor unions sends a message.  "You end up putting a Democratic legislature on record endorsing a billion dollars a year in labor savings, and that's a message to rank and file as well -- that your friends in the Democratic legislature are not going to ride to the rescue." When it comes to convincing legislators to vote for the budget,  Pazniokas says Williams and House Speaker Chris Donovan have a big stick to wield. "The stick they have to maintain discipline is Governor Malloy.  This is a guy who is going to be taking names, and it's a pretty tough thing to do in the first year of a governor's four-year term to abandon him on a budget vote." In a statement this weekend, Malloy called his budget the "real deal" that doesn't rely on gimmicks or tricks. For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.