Speaker: House will uphold Malloy’s budget veto

Keith M. Phaneuf / CTMirror.org file photo

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz predicted late Monday the chamber would uphold Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s veto of the Republican-crafted state budget when it meets today.

Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, also said he moved up the veto session — originally planned for Oct. 10 — to end Republican posturing that he called an obstacle to ending the state’s budget impasse.

“Is it cutting short a week of political silliness? Absolutely,” the speaker told reporters after legislative leaders from both parties discussed the budget for about 90 minutes behind closed doors with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

But House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, called Aresimowicz’s characterization of the Republican push to override Malloy’s veto “offensive.”

The GOP-crafted plan drew support from five Democrats in the House and three in the Senate in mid-September, when it narrowly passed.

Democrats hold a 79-72 edge in the House, and the GOP budget passed there 77-73 with one Democrat absent. It would require a two-thirds’ margin, or 101 votes, to support an override in the House.

If that margin is achieved, the override attempt would move on to the 36-member Senate. Though that chamber is split 18-18, the GOP-budget passed there 21-15. Still, that is three votes shy of the 24 that would be needed to override a veto.

Keith M. Phaneuf / CTMirror.org file photo

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and Senate Republican leader Len Fasano talk Monday with reporters.

Republican leaders have countered that none of the budget proposals offered to date — including those from Malloy — are perfect as the state tries to close huge projected shortfalls totaling $3.5 billion across this fiscal year and next.

“Because you don’t like it does not make it silly,” Klarides told the speaker, adding that the rush to set the Republican budget aside “is people lacking courage.”

Municipal advocates also have endorsed the GOP-crafted budget, which largely holds local aid flat.

Connecticut has gone 13 1/2 weeks into the new fiscal year without a budget, forcing Malloy to manage finances by executive order. And because surging retirement benefit and other debt costs are fixed by contract — and because state income tax receipts aren’t growing as expected — Malloy has had to reduce spending for municipal aid and social services.

Fasano said the alternative to the Republican budget is an executive order system that cuts these vital programs. “I guess that’s not silly?” he asked rhetorically.”

“When that phone starts ringing and the constituents start calling,” Fasano added, “it’s not the Republicans that put them in that position.”

But Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, countered the Republican budget was vetoed, among other reasons, because it would have consigned Hartford to bankruptcy, devastated public higher education, invited lawsuits from state employees and added to Connecticut’s pension liabilities.

Keith M. Phaneuf / CTMirror.org

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said if the state’s capital city is allowed to slip into bankruptcy, many other communities and the state as a whole will face severe economic repercussions.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin has estimated the city would reach insolvency by early November.

If the veto override attempt fails, as expected, Ritter said, it is incumbent on legislators from both parties to return to the bargaining table and find a compromise.

“There’s no walking away tomorrow,” Ritter said. “There’s no pouting. We’ve got to get back at it.”

Malloy said Monday he expects all legislators to be focused on reaching a budget deal by mid-October, noting that scheduling conflicts would make it difficult to pass any plan in the second half of the month.

“I’m putting everything I can into getting this done by the 13th,” the governor said, adding that a bipartisan deal remains within the realm of possibility, provided both sides are ready to control spending. “I’ve compromised every step of the way. … I have moved time and time and time again, and I’m not necessarily done moving in an effort to get a budget.”

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