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Conn. Legislature Passes Long Shot GOP Budget With Help From Dems; Malloy Promises Veto

Johnathon Henninger

In a surprise move, the Connecticut General Assembly has voted in favor a Republican budget proposal. The bill passed the state House of Representatives by a vote of 78-72 early Saturday morning and the Senate by a vote of 21 to 15 on Friday.

This is a major defeat for state Democrats. They hold a majority in the House and an 18-18 tie in the Senate, with Democratic Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman as a potential tie breaking vote.

Three Senate Democrats — Paul Doyle of Wethersfield, Joan Hartley of Waterbury and Gayle Slossberg of Milford — joined the Republicans in voting for the bill. During the Senate debate, Slossberg said the Republican plan was more attractive because it had no new taxes.

“The amendment before us has lower spending, and contains a long list of systemic reforms,” said Slossberg, “given those two imperfect choices and this very difficult vote, I will be voting for the amendment before us.”

Senate Democratic President Martin Looney of New Haven warned that passage of the Republican bill will add to the state’s budget woes because Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy has vowed to veto it.

“We will be continuing in this stalemate, which is not good for the people of the state of Connecticut." Looney said.

Malloy called the GOP budget "unbalanced" in a statement Saturday.

“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,” said Malloy, “if the responsible solution I negotiated with Democrats isn’t going to pass, then it is incumbent on the legislature to reach a new agreement soon – one that is realistic and, ideally, bipartisan.”

With no budget in place, Malloy is currently controlling state spending under his limited executive authority. He has proposed draconian cuts to state aid to municipalities if there’s still no budget by October 1.

The state budget is already more than two months late. At issue has been how to address a projected deficit of $3.5 billion.  

This post was updated to correct the spelling of State Senator Joan Hartley of Waterbury.

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.