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Connecticut lawmakers approve renewal of bipartisan budget control agreement

Opening session of the Legislature at the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut
Jessica Hill
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont delivers the State of the State address during opening session of the Legislature at the State Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Hartford, Connecticut.

Connecticut lawmakers have renewed a 2017 bipartisan budget control agreement for an additional five years. The original agreement produced $9 billion in state surpluses over the past four years.

Democratic House Speaker Matt Ritter said lawmakers from both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly support the extension of the budget controls because they’ve helped generate such huge surpluses.

“It works. I mean, how much money has been freed up? We thought we would be able to get the rainy day fund up 5%, we never thought we’d prepay pensions,” Ritter said.

Governor Ned Lamont had urged lawmakers for a 10-year extension. Democratic leaders opted for a five-year renewal instead.

“The legislature would have to affirmatively say we want to stop this program or stop it and revise it." Ritter said. "And I think in talking to the governor, he’s like, 'I think that makes some sense.'"

The state’s rainy day fund has been increased from 15% to 18% in the new agreement, said Rep. Maria Horn (D-CT), House chair of the Finance Committee.

“There is a very strong feeling that the rainy day fund is there to protect us in a moment where we do not want to be slashing services or cutting taxes, and 18% is a real buffer. 15% is good but 18% is better,” Horn said.

The approval sets up the fiscal guard rails to control spending during budget negotiations between lawmakers and the governor.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.