Republican Senate Majority Leader Len Fasano responds Monday to Gov. Malloy's proposal for bipartisan talks on the state budget. G. Claude Albert / file photo
Republican Senate Majority Leader Len Fasano responds Monday to Gov. Malloy's proposal for bipartisan talks on the state budget.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano G. Claude Albert / file photo

State Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano urged Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday to begin meeting next week with legislative leaders from both parties to attack Connecticut’s budgetary and economic challenges.

Noting that Malloy indicated shortly after Election Day that he would reach out soon to both parties, Fasano said state government could miss a chance to improve confidence among businesses and the general public if it waits to begin discussions until the 2017 General Assembly session — which starts Jan. 4.

Connecticut got some bad news earlier this month involving both its finances and its economy.

The projected deficit in the next state budget grew from about $1.3 billion to almost $1.5 billion, largely because of declining revenue projections.

And the Department of Labor reported last week that the state lost 7,200 jobs in October, and 14,900 positions over the last four months.

“We need to let the people of Connecticut know that we acknowledge these problems and they are our main concern,” Fasano wrote Tuesday in a letter to the Democratic governor. “We have to show to the public that all parties can work together to face these challenges with a united front and give people a reason to give Connecticut a chance. Together, we must send a message to people and businesses who are considering leaving our state that they should stay, because leaders are committed to working together in new ways to improve our economy.”

“We appreciate Senator Fasano’s receptiveness to Governor Malloy’s invitation to begin discussions and share ideas regarding how to move forward together,” the governor’s spokeswoman, Kelly Donnelly, said Tuesday.

Malloy said after the recent election — which saw Republicans make gains in both the Senate and House — that he would urge all caucuses to take a cooperative approach to Connecticut’s challenges.

“Connecticut can show the country that we can continue to make progress, even when we feel divided,” Malloy said on Nov. 9, the day after the election. “We can demonstrate that it is possible to fight hard throughout a tough election, and then get back to work on behalf of our constituents.”

Republicans gained three seats in the Senate, which now is split evenly, 18 to 18. The GOP added eight seats in the House, where Democrats now hold a 79-72 advantage.

“The House Democrats have always been willing to take a collaborative approach and hold bipartisan meetings to address the needs of our constituents,” said House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin. “We don’t need to wait for the governor’s office to facilitate them. As we have said and shown in the past, we are willing to stay at the table for as long as it takes in order to find the best solutions for the people of Connecticut. We are committed to governing, even through the toughest times, to move our state forward.”

“The Senate Democrats are always willing to have an open and honest dialogue about Connecticut’s future and are committed to working every day to improving the lives of our state’s residents,” Senate Democratic Caucus spokesman Adam Joseph said.

The House Republican caucuses did not comment after Fasano released his letter Tuesday afternoon.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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