Boucher, Lavielle comment on state budget proposal headed to governor

Perhaps taking a cue from the Trump-Schumer-Pelosi plan to raise the national debt ceiling, eight Democrats — five in the House and three in the Senate — sided with Republican colleagues to pass a GOP-generated state budget proposal. It is now headed to Gov. Dannel Malloy who has said he will veto it.

The budget passed first in the Senate, 21 to 15 in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and then in the House by a margin of 77-73. State senators number 18 on each side and Democrats hold a slim 79-72 edge in the House.

The budget — which should have been passed before the end of the legislative session in early May — amounts to $40.68 billion over two years. It would provide education funding to cities and towns at fiscal year 2017 levels and would not require municipalities to contribute to the teachers’ pension fund, a source of revenue to the state favored by Malloy.

Its passage was hailed by Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) of Wilton who called it a “win” for taxpayers.  

“Republicans worked so hard, producing a nearly 1,000-page document of cuts, prioritized spending, and structural changes,” she said in a press release. “We present a balanced, responsible budget that did not include new taxes or tolls.

“The bipartisan support for this budget in the Senate is a small victory. I want to thank my Democrat colleagues who put party politics aside to vote for what they, and we believe is a responsible proposal.”

Wilton’s state representative, Gail Lavielle (R-143) told The Bulletin on Saturday afternoon the budget proposal can now truly be called bipartisan.

“What I think is clear, I think we are seeing the will of what appears to be a majority, a bipartisan majority of the legislature to take the state in a new direction that involves not constantly increasing taxes and spending,” she said.

“I am so pleased we have people in both parties who are of like minds on these issues and not afraid to do something about it.”

When the proposed budget, introduced as an amendment, passed in the Senate, Malloy announced he would veto it should it reach his desk. “It relies on too many unrealistic savings, it contains immense cuts to higher education, and it would violate existing state contracts with our employees,” he said.

“Today’s vote in the legislature was a surprise, and it may represent a shift in the dynamic of the General Assembly,” he continued. “But it isn’t a shift for me. I have consistently been in favor of reaching a sensible, realistic budget — one that is balanced honestly and that continues to make progress on Connecticut’s long-term fiscal challenges.”

In the absence of a budget passed by the legislature, Malloy has been running the state’s finances by executive order, something he has repeatedly said he did not want to continue doing.

Speaking to the Bulletin about the governor’s remarks Lavielle said, “He kept saying [to the legislature] if you don’t pass a budget it’s your fault. Now it’s not our fault, it’s his. It will be his decision to let the executive order kick in.”

Malloy can either sign the budget proposal, veto it, or let it pass without his signature.