Senate GOP not ready to share CT budget fix with the public

Kyle Constable / CTMirror.org

Senate Republican leader Len Fasano of North Haven.

Another question of public access arose Monday in the struggle to balance the next state budget.

While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and three of the four legislative caucuses either have released — or have agreed to release — their latest proposed budget adjustments to the public, the Senate Republican caucus took a different approach this week.

Nicole Rall, spokeswoman for Senate Republican leader Len Fasano of North Haven, said the caucus intends — at least initially — to share its plans to close a major shortfall in the next budget only with Malloy’s office and with leadership from the other caucuses.

“At this time it is not the plan to share it publicly at the same time it is shared with the Democrats and the governor,” Rall said.

The governor released to the public Monday a detailed series of revisions to his budget proposal for the next two fiscal years. Analysts warned on May 1 that General Fund revenues, largely because of eroding income tax receipts, probably will produce about $1.5 billion less in revenue during the coming biennium than originally projected.

Spokespeople for the House and Senate Democrats and for the House GOP also said Monday they would release details of their own budget adjustments to the public at the same time they are shared with each other and the governor.

Fasano told The Mirror on Tuesday that it is his understanding that all legislative leaders agreed last week to release their budgets initially to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis. Once all parties had developed “a line-by-line budget for two years” the plans would be disseminated to all caucuses and to the governors’ office.

From there, no decision about whether to release them to the public would be made until leaders meet with Malloy on Wednesday, Fasano said.

“It was my understanding it would not be public,” Fasano said.  “That was the agreement I walked away from, and an agreement is an agreement.”

Fasano’s position on this issue of public disclosure could complicate Republicans’ efforts to present a unified position on closing the projected deficit.

Senate and House Republicans released a joint plan to the public on April 27 — before the latest revenue erosion left all budget proposals way out of balance.

Senate and House Republicans had been working periodically over the past two weeksMonday to develop a joint, revised proposal with the goal of completing it Tuesday.

But House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, still intends to make any proposals her caucus supports available for public review.

House and Senate Democratic leaders have said they intend to release a joint plan Tuesday to compensate for the revenue erosion.

This isn’t the first issue of transparency to complicate the latest budget debate.

Senate Democrats recommended earlier this month that all budget negotiations be open to the public and televised on the The Connecticut Network channel.

House Democratic and Republican leaders said they would accept that, but Malloy and Fasano both argued it would lead more to political posturing than to effective negotiations.

Leaders say they are continuing to discuss the idea but, absent a consensus on that proposal, they will continue to meet privately.

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