May 4th, 2011 | Uncategorized

State passes a budget

UPDATED: 1:57 p.m. After getting final legislative approval at midnight Wednesday morning, the state budget now heads to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s desk.

State legislators in Hartford spent the day debating Malloy’s $40.1 billion biennial taxing and spending plans, and after working late into the night, the House of Representatives passed the budget 83 to 67, the Connecticut Mirror reported. In order to plug the state’s $3.2 billion budget deficit, however, Malloy now turns to ongoing labor concessions talks between his administration and the state employee unions.

Malloy is asking for $2 billion over the next two years from the state’s approximately 45,000 employees, a task Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has called “ambitious.” Many municipal leaders across the state have voiced concern that if Malloy fails to extract his target of labor concessions, the state may cut aid to cities and towns.

“We will continue to do whatever we can to be part of a fair solution,” said Larry Dorman, spokesman for the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition. “But it’s not fair or realistic to expect middle-class people who happen to work for the state to each cut $22,000 a year from our family annual budgets.”

Dorman added that the budget passed in the state legislature makes insufficient demands of the state’s wealthiest residents. Income taxes on the top-bracket earners will rise by 0.2 percent, and Malloy has said he refuses to raise that or any other tax rate more than he already has.

According to the Mirror, Malloy made an unannounced visit to the House chamber late into Tuesday night to encourage legislators to approve the budget, which includes a record $1.4 billion tax increase next year.

Before the House voted, the Senate approved the budget 19 to 17. The House then rejected along party lines a Republican alternative budget free of tax increases.

The tax increases in the budget just passed “nickels and dimes the average taxpayer,” said Lawrence Cafero (R-Norwalk), according to the Mirror. “There are a lot of lives in this state that will change forever.”

Concern about the increased tax burden, eased slightly after Malloy took heat from voters at 17 town halls across the state, prompted 15 Democratic defections in the House.

The debate in Hartford started at 2:05 p.m., but the House did not take a final vote until almost 10 hours later at 11:58 p.m.