For the people of the state of Connecticut, the headline was unusual: “Legislature adopts bipartisan plan to close this year’s modest deficit.” That’s right. Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly managed to agree on the fix for this fiscal year’s $220 million budget shortfall. But before we go all kumbaya on each other, one leader is warning the cooperation will only continue if Democrats are “ready to face reality, face logic.”
There is nothing particularly noteworthy in the fix for this fiscal year says Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano. “We made surgical cuts—no social service cuts that would affect services. It was really a case of over-budgeting. We basically just took the money back,” he said.
Now staring the legislature in the face is next fiscal year’s budget that starts July 1. It is quite a bigger problem—as much as $900 million. Fasano says it will take more to sustain the current cooperative spirit. “The cooperation will continue if they [Democrats] face reality. If they turn away from reality, away from logic, we’re not going to agree to something just to be ‘cooperating.’”
It does seem there is one thing all sides agree upon for the next fiscal year, at least in theory. Both Democratic leaders such as Senate President Marty Looney, Fasano, and Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy have said there needs to be savings found from labor. That’s not going to come easily.
A crowd of state employees—mostly involved in public safety—rallied outside the Capitol Tuesday. They chanted Malloy’s name and booed Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. State Capitol Police estimated the crowd at more than 500. The crowd does not want changes to its benefits and opposes any layoffs (it’s likely to be one or the other).