Budget skirmish at State Capitol

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The Governor has not even signed the new state budget but Republicans are saying it’s not only out of balance, but unconstitutional and subject to legal challenge. Unlike in Washington, the Connecticut State Constitution requires a balanced budget.

Republican leaders in the Assembly say the inclusion of the refinancing of union pension obligations and health care benefits in the new state budget are not real because they have not been approved by the unions.

Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Len Fasano (R-North Haven) saying, “The truth is that this budget is $450 million plus in the red. It talks about a deal with the state union employees that is simply non-existent.”

Fasano tried to make this same argument last Tuesday night when the State Senate gave final approval to the state budget deal sending it to the Governor’s desk.

Related: Home healthcare agencies want Lamont to veto ‘non-complete’ clause ban in budget

During the debate the unions’ top negotiator issued a statement saying they could agree to the change.

In a quickly arranged news conference, the Governor appeared with his budget director and quickly explained that the Republicans are off base saying, “These are not concessions, these are reforms that flatten our out obligations so that our fixed costs are a diminishing portion of our overall budget over a period of time.”

And the budget director said, and the unions confirm, that this change will not require union ratification, just approval by the unions’ executive board.

“We feel very optimistic that we can get in the room and achieve what is included in this budget,” said state budget director Melissa McCaw.

Governor Lamont adding, “I have a high degree of certainty that we’re going to be able to work this out with the state employees. We’ve already achieved a lot of these savings with the teachers. We’ve already achieved a lot of these savings on health care already.”

Budget director Melissa McCaw says the relationship with the state labor unions under Governor Lamont has been very positive from the start. The unions have said they are not open to another penny of concessions, but they are open to this.

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