Connecticut lawmakers say more than $1 billion in unanticipated state income tax revenue this year made it easier for them to agree on second-year budget adjustments before they adjourned their legislative session Wednesday night. The $20 billion second-year of the state budget has no tax increases.
The state’s legislative leaders announced their agreement a few hours before lawmakers ended this year’s legislative session at midnight. State Senate Democratic President Martin Looney says it restores most of the spending cuts that were made in the $41 billion bipartisan two-year budget they passed last year.
“It does restore many of the things we were concerned about, in terms of the Medicare savings plan [and] the funding for health insurance for low-income parents.”
Senate Republican President Len Fasano says cuts to municipal aid and school funding have been restored.
“We’ve been able to put money back in our magnet schools, our vo-ag per student went up to a thousand per person. So we’ve been able to do an awful lot of things that we as a group feel is important, not as Republican or Democrats, but how to move the state forward. ”
House Republican Minority Leader Themis Klarides says they’ve also taken care of social services.
“You look at aid to the elderly and the disabled of all types. Those were things we all agree on.” This budget helps "people who count on us every day."
Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz says the state’s depleted Special Transportation Fund is now funded and money has been put way in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
“We understand the importance of it and we left $1.1 billion in the Rainy Day Fund.”
Aresimowicz says that should be the amount in the fund by the end of the 2019 fiscal year. He says new funding for transportation will mitigate the need for rail and bus fare hikes and the suspension of capital transportation projects this year.
From the executive side, Governor Malloy used his final speech to state lawmakers to thank them for passing a bipartisan budget two years in a row. During his eight years in office, the Democratic governor has had a sometimes contentious relationship with state lawmakers, but in his parting address to them he made light of it.
“I’m just so happy I was able to bring you all together to get a bipartisan budget done two years in row.”
Malloy even made fun of his low approval numbers.
“I’ve had strong working relationships with a number of people in this hall on both sides of the aisle, for those of you who don’t fall into that category, I look forward to coming to your districts and campaigning for you.”
On a more serious note, Malloy thanked lawmakers for finally replenishing the state’s Rainy Day Fund and setting the state on sounder fiscal footing. He also thanked them for moving a progressive agenda forward for Connecticut. Some of the bills passed this year that he mentioned include a state ban on bump stocks, reform of the state’s parole system, gender parity in pay and fairness for victims of sexual assault. He also touted labor agreements that he says will save the state more than $42 billion over 20 years, a smaller state government and lower rate of state spending.
Malloy received cheers and applause from lawmakers and said he's proud to have served as Connecticut's 88th governor, calling it the honor of his lifetime.