Analysis: Spirit Of Fiscal Bipartisanship In Conn. Aided By Billion-Dollar Surplus

May 10, 2018

Connecticut this week wrapped up its legislative session. An on-time bipartisan budget agreement marked a departure from last year.

That was when Connecticut lawmakers and Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy broke records with the longest-running budget stalemate in state history.

This recent deal came as Connecticut Republicans prepare for their big convention starting May 11, with Democrats meeting May 18. WSHU political reporter Ebong Udoma talks about what spurred the budget agreement.

Ebong Udoma, WSHU: Well, if you have more than a billion dollars in extra money coming in from your income taxes, it makes it much easier to reach a bipartisan agreement on a budget.

The state has actually had some tax returns coming in, nearly double what they were expecting. So that gave a cushion for most of the programs that had been cut earlier to be restored. 

Lawmakers going into an election this year found it much easier to reach agreement on restoring money to programs that had been cut.

Carrie Healy, NEPR: Do you expect to see some pushback at the GOP convention to that Republican failed attempt to get changes made to state employee pensions?

I don't think so, because the GOP convention is really going to be driven by the personalities. We have more than two dozen people vying for the gubernatorial nominations, so there's going to be a lot of horse trading.

Quite frankly, I think what happened this legislative session will not play much of a role, because lawmakers are just happy it’s behind them. Tthose that are facing re-election have to get ready for their campaigns, and decide who they're going to ally themselves with going forward. Basically, it will be one-upping each other on who's more against what [Governor Dannel] Malloy stood for. Malloy's poll approval numbers are so low right now.

When the Democrats gather next weekend, will they hold up the defeat of a bill to overhaul the state's sexual harassment laws as a purely political move by Republicans?

Absolutely. Everything is political, here on out. The Democrats would want to tout their liberal credentials. Connecticut is a pretty liberal state. And a lot of the agenda that made it through this past session had to do with things like gender equity and pay and banning bump stocks. There was a lot of legislation to do with renewable energy and reforming the criminal justice system.

So I think the Democrats would want to say that they have held onto their liberal credentials going into this next election. However, it’s pretty tight. You have a six-seat majority in the House, and the Senate is even, 18-18. So just a few seats changing hands could make a big difference come November.