- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Democratic leaders scrapped plans Wednesday evening to push through an 11th-hour budget deal on the final day of the legislative session, acknowledging there was not enough time to pass the bill before a fast-approaching midnight adjournment.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said lawmakers will to return to the state Capitol on May 12 for a special session to vote on the agreement reached between Democratic legislators and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The House of Representatives has not yet agreed to that date.

The legislative leaders had originally intended to pass the budget on Wednesday, but 6 ½ hours before their deadline, the top two Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives issued a joint statement saying the vote was off, cementing the need for a special session.

“As a matter of democracy and fairness to all the members of the House it is not possible to do a budget this evening,” wrote House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin.

The budget deal was reached late Tuesday night between Democrats. The two sides had been at odds for weeks over how to solve a projected $960 million deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Sharkey and Aresimowicz said the time it took to reach that agreement, coupled with the challenge for staff to “get a printed bill to the floor and then achieve passage” would require discussion of the bill to be cut off in order to meet the midnight deadline.

“That scenario would not be fair for the purpose of allowing a complete and reasonable debate, and at this point would be a disservice to House members and the public they represent to move forward tonight,” the two Democrats wrote.

Malloy, who decided to forgo his traditional midnight address to the General Assembly, said he was fine with the delay so long as lawmakers don’t attempt to reopen the deal.

“I will not move from the principles we’ve agreed to,” he said.

Earlier in the day, minority Republicans criticized plans by the Democrats to push through the budget, complaining they still hadn’t received the details of the nearly $20 billion proposal. Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said it would be ridiculous to rush a vote on a deal reached behind closed doors. He praised the decision to hold a special session, saying it gives lawmakers more time to review a bill that still wasn’t released publicly as of Wednesday evening.

The GOP had the power to run out the clock with extended debate, but Fasano said there was no plan to intentionally try to kill the bill.

Besides the budget bill, Looney said he expected lawmakers will vote on a few budget-related bills, including the bond package, as well as Malloy’s criminal justice bill that makes changes to the bail system, increases the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 20 years and old, among other initiatives.

Lawmakers have been grappling for months with the state’s unrelenting budget deficit problems. Falling or lackluster state revenues have been blamed for Connecticut’s fiscal woes.

Republicans and some Democrats voiced concern Tuesday about the amount of estimated revenue decline that’s accounted for in the budget plan. Overall, revenues have dropped about 10 percent since lawmakers passed the original two-year $40.3 billion budget last year. According to the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, the adjusted gross income of the state’s top 50 taxpayers dropped 30 percent from income year 2014 to income year 2015, representing a loss of $217 million in state revenue.

Michael Murphy, an analyst for the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, said the decline in income among the state’s wealthiest taxpayers was “the largest contributor” to the drop in projected state revenues. There also have been declines in overall personal income taxes, estimated income tax payments; corporate income tax; and sales taxes.

Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, said that disclosure about the top 50 taxpayers “is the atomic bomb that everybody was worried about,” referring to predictions by many Republicans that state tax policy was encouraging the wealthy to leave Connecticut.

“The reality is, we know there are residents of the Forbes 500 in the state of Connecticut and, as I understand, some of those residents moved out in the last year and more to come,” he said. “This really should be the rude awakening, as rude as it can possibly be - that we are not at all sensitive to the people from whom we expect so much.”


This story has been corrected to show the spelling is Sen. Michael McLachlan, not McLahlan.

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