Budget, Negotiated Without Malloy, Passes Senate 33-3October 26, 2017
In just the latest bipartisan showing in Hartford, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate came together to pass, by a 33-3 margin, a balanced two-year budget.
At 1:55am on Thursday, the Connecticut Senate passed, by a large margin, a balanced, two-year budget, bringing the state one step closer to ending a months-long impasse that threatens towns, social services, and the state’s credit.
The budget passed 33-3 in the Senate, with all but two Republicans (Joe Markley, Len Suzio) and one Democrat (Gary Winfield) supporting the effort. The budget easily cleared both the 19 votes needed to pass and the 24 votes needed to override a potential veto from Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.).
The Senate’s Republican and Democratic leaders hailed the deal.
- “The bipartisan budget protects vital social service programs and job training programs,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) said. “Above all, it makes good on our commitments to our cities and towns. I want to thank the Democratic and Republican legislative leaders for willingness to negotiate a bipartisan budget.”
- “Passing a bipartisan budget that contains significant structural reforms sends an important message that we are taking the first vital step to begin strengthening our state, restoring our fiscal health, and promoting economic growth,” Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) said. “While we cannot resolve all the state’s issues at once, this budget marks a dramatic shift for our state towards reforms, bipartisanship and solutions.”
THE BIG PICTURE
The nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) completed a fiscal note on the two-year budget, reporting that it would put Connecticut $79.7 million in the black in fiscal year (FY) 2018 and $5.8 million in the black in FY 2019.
This budget would erase projected deficits of around $3.5 billion over the next two fiscal years. Major items in the budget touted by Looney and Fasano include:
- A new Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Formula for state aid to towns that takes new “factors” into account while cutting aid to no town more than five percent (in August, Malloy proposed zeroing out ECS grants for 85 towns)
- “Targeted spending cuts,” including “overtime savings of 10 percent and a hiring freeze on non-24-hour non-union positions”
- A cigarette tax increase, a $0.25 fee on ride-sharing services like Uber, and the “scaling back of tax credits”
- State spending and bonding caps, to encourage fiscal responsibility
- $40 million in aid to Hartford, which is on the brink of bankruptcy
- $100 million for crumbling foundations ($40 million over the next two fiscal years)
HOW DO OTHERS FEEL?
The Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST) hailed the budget’s exclusion of Malloy’s plan to shift teachers’ pension costs from the state to towns, inclusion of structural changes that allow towns to “rein in [education] costs without undermining the quality of our children’s education,” and exclusion of a proposed elimination of the car tax, which is levied at the local level.
The Yankee Institute, a free market, limited government think tank, applauded the budget’s “structural reforms” to how the state handles union deals, and praised the aforementioned spending and bonding caps.
The budget goes to the House, which will convene at 10am on Thursday for a special session to debate and vote on the budget.
If the budget passes the House – and it is expected to do so – it will go to Malloy, who can sign or veto the budget. He already vetoed one budget this year, but he will be under pressure to sign this one if it clears both chambers with veto-proof majorities.
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