- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - It appeared more probable Tuesday the state of Connecticut will not have a new two-year budget or a stop-gap “mini budget” in place before the fiscal year ends Friday, requiring the governor to use his limited authority to run state government and likely make drastic spending cuts.

Democrats had hoped to craft an 11th-hour, two-year budget agreement for a vote on Thursday. But House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said a deal couldn’t be reached in time and he will not call his House members back to the state Capitol for a special session to vote on a 90-day mini budget that Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy offered up Monday.

“I believe my members are less than likely to hop on planes, leave their families at vacation places all over this country and other countries, to come in and do a temporary fix,” said Aresimowicz, who said the mini budget will only “kick the can down the road.”

He said Democratic House members would return to vote on a two-year budget that “moves the state of Connecticut forward” on areas such as workforce development, fairer taxation and strategic investments in urban communities.

The General Assembly has grappled for months with how to cover a projected two-year $5 billion deficit in the new two-year budget that begins July 1. A typical budget year is roughly $20 billion. This struggle comes as the General Assembly has the closest partisan split in recent memory, with Democrats controlling the House by a 79-72 margin. There’s an 18-18 split in the Senate, with the Democratic lieutenant governor breaking ties in favor of the Democrats.

With no agreement in sight on a new, two-year budget, both Malloy and Democratic Senate President Martin Looney of New Haven said the General Assembly should pass the mini budget by June 30, giving lawmakers more time to reach a final two-year budget deal. They argue it will be less draconian than having Malloy act solely within his restricted executive authority to maintain essential state services. For example, he will be unable to increase revenues at a time when there’s been caseload growth in certain human service programs.

Malloy warned he will be forced to cut things like summer youth jobs programs, payments to hospitals, municipal aid and programs serving clients of the state Departments of Developmental Services, Mental Health and Addiction Services and Housing. Meanwhile, Malloy will be unable to stop state judges from receiving a looming pay raise as of July 1.

“Doing nothing will make things worse,” he said.

Gian-Carl Casa, president and CEO of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, said it was “beyond disappointing” the General Assembly will not meet on Thursday to even adopt a short-term budget, saying “the lives and health of tens of thousands of Connecticut residents” are at risk.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, of North Haven, who has urged Democratic leaders to call up a GOP Senate budget proposal for a vote, called it “inexcusable” that lawmakers will not act. He said the ramifications will be “at the doorsteps of the Democrats and not at the doorsteps of the Republicans.”

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