Malloy holding hospital payments hostage in budget battle

Connecticut

HARTFORD and WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Pay cuts, furloughs, and layoffs all appear to be on the table as the state budget continues to spiral in the red and today, Republicans in the Assembly came up with their ideas. Here’s something you don’t often hear; Republican lawmakers are calling for a 10 percent cut in their own pay as part of the solution plus more targeted cuts in spending almost across the board.

“It is human nature to want to keep everything you have and I don’t want to take things away from people…but we have a serious money problem here,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby.)

Calling on state employee unions to concede things like increased co-pays on prescriptions and pension plans, Republican lawmakers laid out their ideas to cut spending in the current budget but say they want to avoid layoffs. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Len Fasano (R-North Haven) saying, “We sort of rejected was the layoff issue, once again, we said if you take two days without pay, that would take care of the layoff issue.”

The Governor said he appreciated the Republican input, but the ‘two-days-without pay’ idea just won’t work, “I saw their furlough proposal, it has some merit, but so far labor hasn’t indicated that they’re interested in opening up those contracts to allow that to happen.”

The Governor says the number of state employee layoffs will depend on how many state employees take retirement by April 1st. Most of those positions will not be refilled. After that a decision on layoffs would be made and that layoffs will have to be made before June 9th.

Both the Republicans and Democrats want the Governor to release $140 million in payments to the state’s hospitals that was part of an agreement to reimburse the cost of caring for poor residents. “Less money has come in so in essence, I guess we’re reneging on every deal, right? Because we have less money to spend,” said the Governor.

He also indicated that the hospital payments are going to be held hostage until lawmakers from both sides agree on $220 million in cuts, “Before we release money to outside organizations, give me your $220 million worth of cuts.”

It’s being reported that Democrats are looking at possible cuts to city and town aid which would be a real pie in the face because last year’s budget agreement is supposed to send more money back to the cities so that they can cut car taxes this July. Republican leaders said today that they don’t see how the state can keep that promise.

You can read a detailed listing of the Republicans’ plan here.

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