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In Hartford, Budget Deadline Looms With No Agreement In Sight

The Connecticut Capitol Building in Hartford
Johnathon Henninger

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Connecticut are blaming each other for not having a budget agreement before the state’s regular legislative session comes to end on Wednesday. In dispute is how to close a $5 billion projected deficit in the state’s next $40 billion two-year budget.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a Berlin Democrat, says Republicans, who are tied in the Senate and are seven seats shy of the majority in the House, are to blame.

He accuses GOP leaders of creating the budget impasse for political gain.

“Does anyone in this room actually believe there was a budget they were going to vote for? They were going to find a way to get away from the table one way or another so they could use it more for political advantage come 2018 than running the state of Connecticut.”

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a Derby Republican, says her caucus will only vote for a budget if it contains structural changes instead of the Democrats’ new revenue proposals involving the return of highway tolls and legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

“Unless they are willing to make very serious changes to union contracts, to a bonding cap, to a spending cap. Things that would actually move the state forward. I don’t think we should have conversations about tolls, pot, and all these things they want to try and blur the message.”

Lawmakers have until the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1 to reach a budget agreement. If they fail to do so, Governor Dannel Malloy will take charge of state spending until a budget is passed.

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.
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