A week of legislative needles and pins

It was a week spent on needles and pins, here and in Washington.

First and foremost, there was the question of whether the state would have a budget by Saturday as Connecticut Democrats, Republicans and Gov. Dannel Malloy all attempted to put one – at least a temporary one – in place.

The legislature couldn’t, so Malloy will manage state finances without one.

There were a lot of people and programs waiting uncomfortably for the news. The Summer Youth Employment program feared 1,200 young people would be out of a summer job, for example.

A frustrated Gov. Dannel Malloy discusses the status of the state budget and budget negotiations Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Malloy had asked lawmakers to raise $320 million in new revenue as a temporary measure to keep afloat the financial ship of state. He had reached tentative agreement with the state’s labor unions to put a concession package up for a vote later this month.

The outcome of that vote could not be known, however, when the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees had to vote on a $1.3 billion budget that assumes the union’s approval and a favorable state budget. As it stands, the UConn budget won’t allow the university to continue to expand the number of students and teachers as planned.

The pins and needles felt sharper everywhere when moderate Democrats in the legislature began to doubt whether the labor concessions would be adequate and worthy of their support.

Unless something was going to be done to prevent it, Connecticut was going to be outspending its resources at a rate of nearly $200 million a month — starting yesterday.

State Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. urged finding common ground to overcome the state’s troubles, but he ruled out running for governor or any other statewide office in 2018.

COURTESY OF AETNA

Aetna’s new headquarters in Manhattan.

There was little suspense created by reports that Aetna would move its corporate headquarters out of Hartford and to Manhattan, and it confirmed the decision Thursday. There is still an open question, however, as to how much Connecticut’s cities would suffer under a new U.S. House bill designed to punish so-called “sanctuary cities” for limiting their cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

The mood in Washington, meanwhile, appeared to be what has become normal, which is to say contentious, while waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to score the Better Care Reconciliation Act. In the meantime, Malloy’s office estimated the Senate Republican healthcare repeal and replacement bill – a measure which dramatically reduces Medicaid funding to the 50 states – would cost Connecticut $2.9 billion and result in “devastating” losses of service.

Ana Radelat / CTMirror.org

One of several protests against the Senate health care bill at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.

Public support for the measure, meanwhile, hovered around 16 percent, a Quinnipiac University Poll reported.

No one seems to object to spending more money on Connecticut-built submarines and aircraft, but plenty of officials — especially women such as U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro — were disgusted by President Donald Trump’s tweet attack on morning TV show host Mika Brzezinski and the chief executive’s “larger pattern of demeaning characterization of women.”

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