The state House of Representatives last night completed legislative approval of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s inaugural state budget, a plan that still has a major hole in it—$ 2 billion in assumed concessions from state employee unions that are still being discussed. Fifteen Democrats in the house joined Republicans in opposing the plan. The vote was 83 to 67 in favor.

Earlier the day, Malloy paid a visit to an attempted closed-door Democratic caucus to give the lawmakers a win-one-for-the-Gipper-type speech as reported by Capitol veteran Ken Dixon.

During debate that lasted some 10 hours, Republicans tried to portray the Democratic plan as anti-middle class. “When they go to buy clothes for their kids – pajamas, underwear, sneakers – now they have to pay taxes on that. It was zero. Now, it’s 6.35 percent,” said Minority Leader Larry Cafero said. “We’re going to put tax on things you never paid taxes on before.”

As The Shad has previously reported, the elephant—or donkey—in the room (both the approved Democratic plan and the defeated Republican alternative both contained them) are the union concessions, or lack thereof thus far. In praising the passage of the spending plan, even Malloy seemed to hedge his bets saying in part, “Now it’s up to my Administration to reach an agreement with our fellow state employees and to present it to the legislature for ratification. I remain hopeful that we’ll get there. If we don’t, I remain committed to presenting an alternative budget to the General Assembly in the next couple of weeks.”

The talks with labor are on-going.

Join your faithful Shad as I make the rounds on a couple of Connecticut TV morning shows Thursday. I’ll be appearing on NBC-Connecticut (Channel 30) with Brad Drazen at 5:30 am and 6:30 am and on the Fox Connecticut Morning News (Channel 61) with Logan Byrnes in the 7 am hour. We’ll be talking about what happens from here with the budget, the chances of union concessions materializing and what happens if they don’t.