Law­mak­ers inch closer to fi­nal state bud­get deal

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ken Dixon kdixon@ct­post.com Twit­ter: @KenDixonCT

HART­FORD — House and Se­nate lead­ers, inch­ing closer to a bud­get that is al­most three-and-a-half months late, think they might fi­nally have a draft doc­u­ment to show the gover­nor Wed­nes­day.

Speak­ing after an­other three-hour, closed-door round of num­ber crunch­ing and ne­go­ti­a­tions in the House Democrats’ cau­cus room, the law­mak­ers ad­mit­ted they still have some ma­jor hur­dles in an at­tempt to solve the coun­try’s long­est bud­get de­lay.

“We are def­i­nitely mak­ing progress,” said Se­nate Repub­li­can Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, after the ses­sion, de­tail­ing gains on school-fund­ing for­mu­las and so-called struc­tural changes to save the state money in the long run.

“Each time the con­ver­sa­tions are get­ting us closer and closer to­gether, in my view,” Fasano said.

“That’s what this is about, right? Try­ing to fig­ure out what your pri­or­i­ties are and what you can agree to and what you can’t,” said House Mi­nor­ity Leader Themis Klar­ides, R-Derby. “And that’s what will be the sum of this at the end of the day.”

“One of the things we are mak­ing progress on is a con­sen­sus spend­ing cap we all can agree on,” said Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, speak­ing of a fa­vorite Repub­li­can is­sue.

“We’re mak­ing progress,” said Speaker of the House Joe Ares­i­mow­icz, D-Berlin. “Re­ally the progress we have made over the past cou­ple of days, at this time I don’t see a way that we don’t come to an agree­ment.”

Ares­i­mow­icz said that if all goes well in Wed­nes­day’s ne­go­ti­a­tions, the group may be ready to go back to the gover­nor with a bud­get doc­u­ment for his re­view.

Last month, Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy ve­toed a Repub­li­can bud­get that nar­rowly passed the House and Se­nate with sev­eral votes from Democrats. Last week, the GOP and Demo­cratic lead­ers, after meet­ing with the gover­nor for sev­eral days, agreed to meet on their own and cre­ate, with ad­vice from non­par­ti­san leg­isla­tive bud­get staff, a two-year, nearly $40-bil­lion bud­get pro­posal for Mal­loy’s re­view and pos­si­ble agree­ment.

Since the fis­cal year be­gan on July 1, the state has been op­er­at­ing on a bare­bones ex­ec­u­tive or­der from Mal­loy. “He does not want to be in the po­si­tion of hav­ing to im­ple­ment his ex­ec­u­tive or­der,” Looney said of Mal­loy. “He’s made that clear to us that he has as great a stake in get­ting to an agreed-upon bud­get that we can pass and that he will sign, as we do.”

Fasano said that the non­par­ti­san Of­fice of Fis­cal Anal­y­sis has been re­search­ing the var­i­ous fis­cal im­pli­ca­tions and should have de­tailed re­port on the tax-and-spend­ing pack­age Wed­nes­day.

“We’re all in there be­cause we be­lieve mov­ing for­ward on a bud­get we can agree on is the best way to go,” Klar­ides said.

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