HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A deal on the state budget in principle between the Democrats and Gov. Ned Lamont is on the table Friday night.
They’re going to bring it to their caucuses and try to get the Republicans on board.
Gov. Lamont said Friday, “There’s been a lot of gimmickry over the years, over many years and I wanted to work hard to make sure that the voters of Connecticut and the taxpayers of Connecticut knew that we had an honestly balanced budget and that was a frank and honest discussion to be blunt about it.”
The governor calls the deal on the table bold and progressive.
Governor Lamont, “I felt very strongly…we weren’t going to raise taxes.”
And agreement in principle: $46-billion over two years, no tax increases, and cities and towns will get their funding with some stability including education funding. The transportation climate initiative which would have increased gas prices is out; a state child tax credit is out, too. Instead, families will have a credit from the federal government.
State Senate President Marty Looney (D) explained Friday, “The reality is expectations are higher at times when you have more money.”
House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) added, “If we can find space where revenues have changed then we can see if Republicans will vote for it and then timing isn’t an issue anymore.”
Now, they will try to get Republican support. There is more spending.
House Minority Leader Vin Candelora (R) said, “We have enough federal money to balance the budget but that is not enough for Democrats.”
Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly (R) added, “Now is not the time to increase the financial burden on Connecticut families; let’s give them a break.”
Republicans also say at first blush the deal incorporates things they support like: more funding for the unemployment compensation, fund education dollars, and no taxes. It looks like the 600-page document may be put up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday.
After days of what looked like agreement, a deal on the state budget could be teetering on the edge Thursday.
Gov. Lamont held a press conference to update everyone on where they are. It seems as though the final one yard is hard to cross.
The parties at the table seem to be at odds over the deadline. The governor says “we have time,” while the House speaker says “no we don’t.” He’s making a decision Thursday evening whether to run the general assembly’s budget.
“I’m somebody who came in, looked at a budget. It was $3-billion out of wack when I took over,” Gov. Lamont explained. “I want to make sure none of my successors get stuck with the same situation.”
Gov. Ned Lamont and his Democratic leaders are still negotiating the two-year $46-billion budget. It is coming down to spending initiatives and how money is being accounted for.
State Rep. Matt Ritter/(D) House Speaker said, “It’s like the airplane is leaving and we got to hop on the airplane.”
Speaker Ritter says his caucus wants a budget bill voted on before next Wednesday’s deadline. The governor wants an honestly balanced budget, that doesn’t create a financial cliff. That doesn’t have broad-based tax increases and is under the spending cap.
A last-minute counteroffer to calm fears about the spending cap is out there, but the clock is ticking.
Gov. Lamont said, “We go back and forth on this for a while. Sometimes the goal line is sometimes moving a bit. But I think we are going to get close. We’ll see. We’ve got a little time. I remember two years ago… they didn’t get the thing done until October. I don’t want that to happen we are better than that.”
Ritter added, “When you are the governor of the state of Connecticut, you have the luxury of time.”
Adding to the issue of time, are there enough Republicans who will like what’s on the table? They haven’t been in the room.
When News 8’s Chief Political Correspondent Jodi Latina asked Speaker Ritter, “Speaker, can you explain – as this plane is getting ready to take off – are there Republicans running alongside you on the tarmac to join?”
He replied, “I’m not willing to say that … you can ask them. But we have been engaged with them for weeks.”
State Rep. Vin Candelora/(R) House Minority Leader responded, “Cities and Towns are bracing.”
Joe DeLong, the executive director and CEO of Connecticut Conference of Municipalities told News 8, “From our perspective, it’s much like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. As soon as you think you know what’s going on the football gets pulled out from underneath you.”
His group represents the 169 cities and towns around the state. They say the governor and lawmakers are backing off a promise, giving cities and towns the sales tax revenue through a dedicated fund that isn’t subject to the volatility of the general fund.
DeLong added, “It simply means anytime the state falls into fiscal peril, you are going to see your property taxes go up…Things like this quickly erode trust between the state and local government and frankly, it should erode the trust of our taxpayers in the state as well.”
The Governor and Legislative Democratic leaders are expected to meet again to talk.