Key Connecticut Legislative Committee's Budget Plan Collapses

Apr 26, 2017

A key legislative committee has withdrawn a budget proposal which Democrats had hoped to vote through Tuesday. 

The Appropriations Committee was to have adopted a plan which would have seen higher spending than the competing proposal from Governor Dannel Malloy. But mid-afternoon, Democratic leadership announced they couldn't muster bipartisan votes for the package.

The plan would also have dumped Malloy's plan to shift some of the cost of teacher pensions to cities and towns, and would have preserved the tax exempt status of hospitals.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz put the blame squarely on Republicans saying they had walked away from negotiations.

"There we are at the table, negotiating," he said. "Things are coming in, going out, you're compromising in areas to get something in another area. And at the very last minute they pull the rug out from under your feet and say we're off the package, this is now going to become your product."

Malloy issued a statement saying he's deeply disappointed the legislature has been unable to put a plan on the table.

Even as one legislative committee was backing out of a spending plan, another was discussing controversial changes to the sales tax.

The Finance Committee held a public hearing on several ideas, among them removing the sales tax exemption enjoyed by non-profits.

House Minority leader Themis Klarides blasted the idea, saying the real fix for the state’s budget is to return to negotiations with state employee unions.

"This isn't about unions are bad or good - many of my friends are state employees," she said. "But when almost half your budget is in one area, and we can't touch it, where do we go? I'll tell you where we go: we go to non-profits."

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities advocated before the committee for a hike in the sales tax to 6.99 percent, saying a portion should be reserved for cities and towns, as a way to hold down property taxes.

Both committees face a deadline later this week to put out tax and spending plans.