Republicans Hope to ‘Be in the Room’ for Next Step of the Budget Process

Citing the relative civility and mutual respect expressed by both sides in Connecticut’s budget process, the top Republican senator says GOP legislative leadership should be included in the next step of the budget process. Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano also says the Democratic-controlled Appropriations Committee’s budget has a spending cap problem.

After the Finance Committee votes on its part of the budget—the spending plan—this week, legislative leaders hash out an agreement with the governor’s office behind closed doors. On the Republicans participating in these discussions, Fasano says, “I hope so. They [Democrats] have shown great restraint in not criticizing our [alternative] budget. We have shown respect for their budget work so we should be in the room,” Fasano said. He added, “But ultimately it is up to them.” Democrats control both chambers of the General Assembly.

There are some major questions about the appropriations budget and the state spending cap. Approving a budget that is about $600 million more than the governor’s plan meant the committee had to blow through the spending cap—at least as it has been traditionally defined.

It’s unclear whether it’s even constitutional to unilaterally redefine the spending cap. “Appropriations has issues with its budget,” Fasano said. “It takes two-thirds approval [from both the Senate and House] to change the spending cap. I guess they can simply do it until someone challenges it.”

Both co-chairs of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Beth Bye and Rep. Toni Walker, say a legal opinion on whether broadening the definition of the spending cap in order to exclude more spending from being counted under it is proper or legal.