The two sides are already digging in. As The Hanging Shad reported yesterday, the Malloy administration wants the legislature to move ahead with a budget vote even if the $2 billion in union concessions needed to balance the plan aren’t in place. Not so fast, says state Republican party Chairman Chris Healy.
Healy says lawmakers have an obligation to pass a spending plan that is balanced. “Democrats don’t have a budget, they have a $2 billion problem and they must fix it before asking taxpayers to foot the bill,” Healy told CTNewsJunkie.com. “The most important job is to correctly and honestly provide a document that adds up and this budget doesn’t come close.”
But Malloy says it’s time to move ahead. “I said on Feb. 16 adopt this budget and blame me,” Malloy said at a news conference. “We’ve gotta get going. If it falls upon me to institute those reductions then I’m prepared to do that.”
There is a constitutional question involved as well. The state Constitution requires the General Assembly to pass a balanced state budget. However Malloy Senior Roy Occhiogrosso says the legislature has long passed budgets that are based on assumed savings. That may be true. But not in recent memory has the relied-upon-savings reached the level it has this year.
Another point of contention for Healy is that Malloy budget director Ben Barnes has the power to reduce the budget by $1 billion under the bill passed by the legislature’s appropriations committee. Healy tells CTNewsJunkie, “Legislators are elected for one purpose to compose and vote on a budget not give it to an unelected bureaucrat. What are they afraid of – doing their jobs?” he asked.
Both the House and Senate are in session Wednesday. A vote on the budget could come as soon as then.