Bud­get ap­proved, Mal­loy pledges to vet

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Cum­mings

HART­FORD » With Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy likely to veto the $40 bil­lion Repub­li­can bud­get nar­rowly ap­proved by the House and Se­nate, the Gen­eral As­sem­bly is back where it started and ma­neu­ver­ing in shift­ing po­lit­i­cal sands.

“You have to take the party patch off or this will never work,” said House Speaker Joe Ares­i­mow­icz after his Demo­cratic bud­get went down in flames early Satur­day due to the de­fec­tion of four cau­cus mem­bers.

“The [Repub­li­can] bud­get is more of a po­lit­i­cal doc­u­ment — they know it can’t be im­ple­mented ,” Are sim ow­icz said. “Let’s get se­ri­ous about ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

State Rep. Kim Rose, D-Mil­ford and one of four House mem­bers who voted for the Repub­li­can bud­get, said Satur­day her vote was in­tended to force bi­par­ti­san ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“I didn’t feel either bud­get was a good bud­get,” Rose said. “The Repub­li­can bud­get was a lit­tle kin­der to Mil­ford. But we need to move for­ward. It’s my hope we work to­gether to pro­tect ser­vices and do struc­tural re­forms.”

Democrats, who have en­joyed ma­jor- ity con­trol of the Leg­is­la­ture for years, are now op­er­at­ing in new and un­fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory — per­haps a byprod­uct of the con­ser­va­tive wave that swept Don­ald Trump into the White House last fall.

But the un­der­ly­ing risk of the po­lit­i­cal jock­ey­ing is dra­co­nian cuts in Oc­to­ber to ed­u­ca­tion and mu­nic­i­pal aid that Mal­loy must ex­e­cute un­der his ex­ec­u­tive or­der now fund­ing es­sen­tial ser­vices in the ab­sence of an adopted spend­ing plan by the Leg­is­la­ture.

“We know our fi­nan­cial prob­lems will get sig­nif­i­cantly worse in Oc­to­ber, re­sult­ing in mas­sive cuts to towns, hospi- tals, pri­vate providers and oth­ers,” Mal­loy said. “Con­necti­cut is count­ing on us — let’s keep work­ing.”

Stun­ning de­feat

The adop­tion of a Repub­li­can bud­get in a Demo­cratic con­trolled House and Se­nate on Thursday and Fri­day re­ver­ber­ated through the state’s po­lit­i­cal cir­cles.

The Se­nate voted 21-15 on Fri­day af­ter­noon for the Repub­li­can pack­age and on Satur­day the House adopted the spend­ing plan by a nar­row 77-73 cast in the early morn­ing hours. Seven at­tempts by Dem-

ocrats to amend the GOP bud­get, which would have sent it back to the Se­nate, failed.

Rose said she knew Mal­loy, a Democrat who backed his party’s bud­get, would veto the Repub­li­can plan that she helped adopt — and ad­mit­ted that fac­tored in her de­ci­sion to sup­port the bill in hopes the two sides would later pro­duce a bet­ter spend­ing plan.

“Since the last na­tional elec­tion, it’s not black and white any­more,” Rose said. “You can’t go too far left or right. You must be will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate.”

State Sen. Gayle Sloss­berg, D-Mil­ford, also de­fected from her party and

backed the Repub­li­can plan, along with Sens. Paul Doyle, D-Wethers­field and Joan Hart­ley, D-Water­bury.

Sloss­berg said her choice did not come eas­ily. “This has been a long and dif­fi­cult process,” she said.

“Con­necti­cut has had multi­bil­lion-dol­lar deficits for so many years, and we are go­ing to be looking at multi­bil­lion-dol­lar deficits for the next 30 years,” Sloss­berg said. “It scares me. We have to turn the curve and make those hard choices.”

The dif­fer­ences in the Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can spend­ing plans are stark.

The Democrats pro­posed plug­ging the state’s $3.5 bil­lion deficit with a cock­tail of spend­ing cuts and in­creased fees and sur­charges. Their bud­get slapped a 49-cent per month fee on cell­phones,

a new fee on “sum­mer” homes and cre­ated a new state au­thor­ity to im­ple­ment high­way tolls.

The Repub­li­can bud­get in part re­lies on huge spend­ing cuts at UConn and elim­i­nat­ing the state Cit­i­zen’s Elec­tion pro­gram, which pro­vides pub­lic money to fund cam­paigns.

The GOP plan also slashes the Earned In­come Tax Credit that al­lows poor fam­i­lies to get a break on their state in­come tax.

For Mal­loy, the GOP plan sim­ply goes too far.

“It re­lies on too many un­re­al­is­tic sav­ings, it con­tains im­mense cuts to higher ed­u­ca­tion, and it would vi­o­late ex­ist­ing state con­tracts with our em­ploy­ees, re­sult­ing in costly le­gal bat­tles for years to come,” Mal­loy said.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Themis Klar­ides, R-Derby,

called the Repub­li­can plan one that would move the state ahead and plug a $3.5 bil­lion deficit.

“We have to start some­where,” she said of a bud­get stale­mate that has gone on for 77 days, and urged Democrats to stop “kick­ing the can.”

Shift­ing sands

It was not that many years ago that Democrats en­joyed healthy mar­gins in the House and Se­nate, com­fort­able enough that the de­fec­tion of two or three mem­bers — and some­times more — made no dif­fer­ence.

But the mar­gin be­tween Democrats and Repub­li­cans has been steadily tight­en­ing. Dur­ing the last elec­tion, the House ma­jor­ity dropped to seven votes and Se­nate was left tied 18-18, with Demo­cratic Lt. Gov.

Nancy Wy­man able to break a dead­locked vote.

“There could be shift­ing align­ments,” said Gary Rose, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at Sa­cred Heart Univer­sity. “Maybe this is the tip of the ice­berg, th­ese Demo­cratic de­fec­tions. Democrats should take heed.”

Steve McLean, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity, said the po­lit­i­cal ground has been shift­ing for some time.

“There are a lot of subur­ban Democrats fac­ing pres­sure to vote for more aus­tere bud­gets,” McLean said. “They are con­cerned they will face a tough elec­tion next year.”

McLean at­trib­uted much of the shift to the di­vide be­tween ur­ban and subur­ban ar­eas in Con­necti­cut, not­ing many Democrats come

from the sub­urbs.

“The Democrats have lost that big ma­jor­ity,” McLean said. “The fis­sure is so large that some will vote for the Repub­li­can bud­get. But it’s also easy to vote for a bud­get they know won’t pass the gov­er­nor.”

Still, McLean said the up­com­ing race for gov­er­nor looks like it could be “fright­en­ing for Democrats. I don’t think it has as much to do with Trump as the ur­ban and subur­ban di­vide.”

Ron­ald Schurin, a UConn po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor, said he be­lieves the Demo­cratic de­fec­tions are mostly a ne­go­ti­at­ing tac­tic de­signed to get a bet­ter deal.

“This re­flects the Repub­li­can base flex­ing its po­lit­i­cal mus­cle,” Schurin said. “But at the end of the day this bud-

get and the dacro­nian custs will go nowhere.”

Demo­cratic Party Chair- man Nick Bal­letto in­sisted his party has strong sup­port across the state.

“I have trav­eled to all cor­ners of the state in re­cent months, talk­ing to those who felt left out of our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem and are

mak­ing their voice heard since Don­ald Trump was elected,” Bal­letto said. “I can as­sure you that there is a groundswell of grass­roots sup­port­ers who be­lieve in our val­ues and that

what we are fight­ing for is right. They will not be slowed down in this ef­fort to move Con­necti­cut for­ward.”

Repub­li­can Party Chair­man J.R. Ro­mano saw the

vote dif­fer­ently, say­ing it was a re­pu­di­a­tion of Mal­loy and Democrats.

“[The vote] was a vic­tory for Con­necti­cut tax­pay­ers and a de­feat for Gov. Mal­loy’s poli­cies. It shows Repub­li­cans can lead the state to pros­per­ity,” Ro­mano wrote on Twit­ter.

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