House balks at over­ride

Repub­li­cans fail to bring up Mal­loy’s bud­get veto

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ken Dixon

HART­FORD — In a bat­tle of par­lia­men­tary ma­neu­ver­ing, House Repub­li­cans on Tues­day balked at bring­ing up their ve­toed bud­get for an over­ride vote.

When, shortly af­ter 1 p.m., Speaker of the House Joe Ares­i­mow­icz for­mally asked whether any law­mak­ers wanted to nom­i­nate the bud­get for re­con­sid­er­a­tion, the his­toric cham­ber fell silent.

No one, not even one of the five House Democrats who pushed it over the fin­ish line in a 77-73 vote early on Sept. 16, spoke up.

Then, House Ma­jor­ity Leader Matt Rit­ter, in an un­usual move, of­fered Repub­li­cans a sep­a­rate bud­get deal on the is­sue of rev­enue, since both par­ties agree on the need to raise about the same amount to pay for the state’s bud­get year that be­gan July 1.

“I hope this is a step for­ward for what we need so des­per­ately for our state,” said Rit­ter, DHart­ford. “We need a bridge over trou­bled fi­nan­cial waters.”

He called for a par­tial bud­get agree­ment to be voted on next week.

“No ne­go­ti­a­tion needs to be done. There is no de­bate that would have to oc­cur. The Repub­li­can bud­get that passed and the Demo­cratic bud­get that did not pass, lit­er­ally iden­ti­cally, side-by-side, had $850 mil­lion in agree­ment in rev­enue. We could pass that.”

Ares­i­mow­icz, D-Ber­lin, said the veto over­ride was dead for the day.

But with the special ses­sion still in ef­fect, GOP law­mak­ers can wait for an­other mo­ment to at­tempt their long­shot veto over­ride.

Con­necti­cut is the last state in the na­tion to pass a bud­get.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Themis Klar­ides, who passed the bud­get bill last month with the help of the few House Democrats, said she wanted to keep open the op­tion of re­viv­ing the veto over­ride later, rather than send­ing it to a sure death Tues­day.

The bill re­quires 101 House votes to over­ride Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy.

Klar­ides, R-Derby, was crit­i­cal of Rit­ter’s of­fer, stress­ing the two-year $40 bil­lion Repub­li­can bud­get was a bi­par­ti­san bill that should be­come the ba­sis of any fu­ture com­pro­mise.

“We ab­so­lutely, pos­i­tively stand by the fact that over­rid­ing this veto is the best for the state of Con­necti­cut,” Klar­ides told re­porters.

Bi­par­ti­san ne­go­ti­a­tions have been continuing off and on for weeks be­tween leg­isla­tive lead­ers and the gover­nor.

“Work­ing off a doc­u­ment you have is al­ways bet­ter and more ef­fi­cient than start­ing from scratch — and that was the rea­son we did not bring up the mo­tion to over­ride today,” she said.

“Let’s be clear about what just hap­pened today,” said Ares­i­mow­icz. “Given the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss, de­fend and vote for a veto over­ride on their bud­get, the Repub­li­can Party de­cided to take a pass. They asked for it. They cam­paigned around the state for it, and then given the op­por­tu­nity, we heard noth­ing but crick­ets from the other side of the aisle.”

Around 4 p.m., af­ter an hour in Mal­loy’s of­fice, the lead­ers left, and for the first time, did not com­ment to re­porters. Mal­loy said they have home­work to do on le­gal and fi­nan­cial as­pects of pos­si­ble ar­eas of bud­get com­pro­mise.

“I think every­one knows what the re­sult would have been had there been a vote today,” Mal­loy said. “I think we need to keep mov­ing and try to get a bud­get by the 13th of Oc­to­ber.”

Ear­lier in the day, Mal­loy said his ex­ec­u­tive or­der, which has been in ef­fect since July 1, is tem­po­rary.

“We’re not do­ing some­thing to be dif­fi­cult,” Mal­loy said. “I know I have to cut at least a bil­lion and a half dol­lars from the ’17 bud­get.”

He said the ex­ec­u­tive or­der took into ac­count avail­able fund bal­ances and the gen­eral abil­ity of towns and cities to cope dur­ing the state bud­get cri­sis.

“If a com­mu­nity has cash avail­able and I have a bil­lion-and-a-half short­fall, don’t ex­pect me to step in or ex­pect the state to step in with­out a bud­get in place,” Mal­loy told re­porters af­ter swear­ing in a con­tin­gent of state judges.

Ear­lier Tues­day, Se­nate Repub­li­can Leader Len Fasano of North Haven an­nounced he made a sec­ond re­quest of At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ge­orge Jepsen to rule on the le­gal­ity of Mal­loy’s mid-Au­gust re­vi­sion of his ex­ec­u­tive or­der, which took ef­fect July 1, when the new fis­cal year be­gan with­out a bud­get.

“We be­lieve that the gover­nor’s or­ders were du­bi­ous at best,” Fasano told re­porters af­ter the House ses­sion.

Jepsen, in an early af­ter­noon re­sponse to Fasano, said the over­all is­sue is based in part on a 19th cen­tury court case that could be sub­ject to a rein­ter­pre­ta­tion.

“The gover­nor is con­fronted with mak­ing very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions in the face of the Leg­is­la­ture’s con­tin­ued in­abil­ity to en­act a bud­get,” Jepsen wrote, “and it is ap­par­ent that he has at­tempted to meet that chal­lenge by mak­ing rea­son­able and pru­dent choices.”

Also on Tues­day, the Con­necti­cut Con­fer­ence of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties held a news con­fer­ence in Walling­ford to stress the need to adopt a com­pro­mise bud­get that does not in­crease the lo­cal prop­erty taxes.

“Our lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from the largest cities to the small­est towns are bur­dened by the lo­cal prop­erty tax,” said Port­land First Select­woman Su­san Brans­field, CCM’s pres­i­dent. “Any bud­get that is passed, any ac­tion that is taken, needs to have no im­pact on that bur­den.”

Monica Jorge / The Courant / As­so­ci­ated Press

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Themis Klar­ides, cen­ter, speaks fol­low­ing the ses­sion af­ter no mo­tion was brought re­gard­ing the bud­get veto Tues­day.

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