House deliberates GOP-backed state budget plan

The Connecticut House and Senate, in a surprising change of political dynamics, approved the Republican budget plan at 1:45 a.m. Saturday morning.

"Obviously there are technical issues regarding the implementers and the volume of work that needs to be done", Looney said, referring to key policy changes that must be included in every budget to implement programmatic changes. Absent a budget, Malloy has said he has no choice but to reduce major general government and education grants to cities and towns on September 30 and October 1.

Others would end automatic cost-of-living adjustments to pensions, remove overtime earnings from pensions calculations, and restrict future benefits contracts with state employee unions to no more than four years in duration.

The three Democrats who jumped ship and started the defection, Sens. Republicans say it achieves $270 million in savings by requiring workers to pay more toward their retirement benefit, eliminating cost of living adjustments until the fund balance of the state employee retirement system is deemed healthy by national standards and by eliminating overtime from the calculation of an employee's salary for pension benefits.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said she remains convinced the GOP budget "is certainly the option that is best for the state of CT".

The three moderates rejected the plan crafted by Democratic leaders and the governor, arguing that tax and fee hikes built into it - worth $684 million this fiscal year and $1.53 billion across the next two combined - simply are too much, especially given recent history.

"There were clearly people in the Senate Democratic caucus that saw and believed in the fact that there was a third choice, and that third choice was the best choice for CT", she said Saturday.

He added that he doesn't yet know what the impact would be to his district. "That's kind of the fun of being here".

Democrats said on Thursday they had enough votes to pass a budget Malloy would sign, but that deal fell apart. Still, there remain obstacles, including passing the House and getting approval from the governor, he admitted.

Duff said he doubts the three even read the 1,000-page Republican document prior to voting for it, and noted the proposal does not include financial assistance for homeowners with crumbling concrete foundations to the extent of the Democratic proposal.

Republican lawmakers have criticized the revenue increases in the Democrats' budget plan and have proposed their own plan with no tax increases.

The budget that emerged from the Senate includes $20 million in annual bonding and a $2.7 million payment from the banking fund that would finance a new program for crumbling foundations.

"It gives the power to the people to make those decisions through their elected representatives, and perhaps through hearings", Davis said of his party's plan.

"They made their choice today, but we go on from here", Looney said early Friday.

The budget agreement was reached by Malloy and fellow Democrats in the legislature.

The House of Representatives is expected to debate the budget later Friday, after failing to reach a vote early Friday morning. "But it isn't a shift for me".

Malloy called the GOP budget "unbalanced" in a statement Saturday.

Vanessa Coleman

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