- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Latest on budget cuts to Connecticut watchdog agencies (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

The executive directors of Connecticut’s three watchdog agencies want Attorney General George Jepsen to weigh in on whether Gov. Dannel P. Malloy can cut their budgets.

Carol Carson, executive director of the Office of State Ethics, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she and the leaders of the State Elections Enforcement Commission and Freedom of Information Commission plan to ask Jepsen for an advisory opinion.

The planned request comes after Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, sent a letter to the agency heads rejecting their claim that Malloy is barred by a 2004 law from reducing their budgets. Barnes says Malloy was granted authority to hold back funding in the new state budget.

The General Assembly passed legislation in 2004 that prohibits governors from reducing the agencies’ annual budgets.

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1:15 p.m.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget director has rejected a claim by Connecticut’s three watchdog agencies that the governor can’t reduce their budgets.

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes says Malloy has the legal authority to withhold funding, despite a 2004 law prohibiting governors from reducing the annual budgets of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, the Office of State Ethics and the Freedom of Information Commission.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Barnes says the agencies “were not unfairly or disproportionately targeted” by the cuts aimed at fixing the state’s deficit.

The leaders of the three agencies last month sent a letter to Barnes questioning the legality of the cuts, saying the General Assembly passed the 2004 legislation to protect the agencies’ independence. They requested the funding be restored.

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