Malloy says he may need GOP votes to pass a budget

ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who intends to revise his budget proposal next week to address falling income-tax receipts, expressed doubt Friday about the prospects of passing a budget in the closely divided General Assembly without the votes of some Republicans.

The Democratic governor is tentatively scheduled to meet next week with legislative leaders of both parties, who are trying to find a way to balance the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and will shape the fight for control of the General Assembly in 2018.

“I’m ready, willing and able to speak with the leaders. The leaders are going to have to play a leadership role,” Malloy said. “Republicans are probably going to have to vote for a budget for the first time in 10 years. So, there’s a lot of work to be done.”

The expectation of GOP votes likely reflects Malloy’s belief that passage of a budget that relies more on deep spending cuts than tax increases is not possible with only Democratic votes.

“I think to get the job done, a whole lot of people are going to have to own it,” Malloy said. “I’m prepared to work with folks, but this is going to require compromise on everyone’s part.”

Without Republicans, Malloy would need the unanimous support of all 18 Democrats in the evenly divided Senate, plus the tie-breaking vote of the presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. With a 79-72 Democratic majority in the House, any four Democrats can block a budget, unless they are offset by Republicans.

By holding a narrow majority, Democrats essentially are first in line to attempt passage of a balanced budget. But if Democrats cannot agree on a plan, Republicans will have to explain to voters why they do not attempt to govern by crafting a budget capable of attracting a handful of Democratic votes.

Malloy said he remains opposed to major tax increases, even facing the prospect of income tax receipts falling as much as $500 million short of original estimates for the next fiscal year.

“I think there is a recognition that this is not about raising taxes. It’s about finding a way to live within the means that we have,” Malloy said. “That’s not to say there shouldn’t be tax adjustments, there should be. They were included in the budget I presented.”

Senate GOP leader Len Fasano of North Haven said Republicans remain opposed to tax increases, but he is open to working with the governor on a budget that makes structural changes in the state’s finances.

“I think he’s right. The leaders have to get together, and he’s right the leaders have to lead. I think he’s right the state of Connecticut needs a change in direction,” Fasano said.

But the legislative Democrats must be open to structural reforms, he said.

“If they don’t recognize their failed policies,” Fasano said, “we’re never going to get a budget with Republican fingerprints on it.”

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