By Associated Press - Thursday, September 21, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Labor union members and community advocates rallied Thursday outside the state Capitol to urge Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to uphold his promise to veto a Republican budget approved by the legislature.

Democratic lawmakers, state workers, teachers, students and pastors were among the more than 100 people who gathered in Hartford. They criticized the GOP budget for slashing spending to public colleges, shortchanging state aid to needy school districts, raising taxes on an estimated 200,000 families by cutting a tax credit for low-income people and eliminating public funding of political campaigns.

“Certainly this budget is reckless and unbalanced,” said Pastor A.J. Johnson, of the Urban Hope Refuge Church. “More than that, it is outright cruel.”

Republicans are defending their tax-and-spending plan, saying it doesn’t raise taxes and more fairly distributes state education aid to cities and towns.

Malloy and lawmakers have been mired in a budget impasse for months, amid a projected $3.5 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years. There is still no approved budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 or the following year.

Malloy, who is planning to discuss the budget with Republican legislative leaders on Friday, has been running state government with his limited spending authority. If there is no approved budget by the end of the month, a Malloy spending plan that includes education aid cuts to many towns would take effect.

In surprise votes last week, the legislature approved the two-year, $40.7 billion Republican plan despite a small Democratic majority in the House and Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman holding the tie-breaking vote in the evenly split Senate.

Malloy on Thursday continued in his criticism of the GOP budget.

“I don’t think there’s room for compromise if it’s going to destroy jobs,” he said at news conference on workforce training programs. “I don’t think there’s room for compromise if the goal is to destroy the very educational programs that have allowed us to turn around school districts and schools.”

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, of North Haven, took issue with the characterizations of the GOP budget made Thursday at the rally and by Malloy.

“The budget that passed the legislature with bipartisan support still manages to prioritize core services for working and middle class families,” he said in a statement. “It’s a budget that protects services, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, that were cut in other budgets. … If we want to save our schools from the devastation they will see come October, this is the path forward.”

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