As promised, Governor Dannel Malloy today vetoed the Republican-drafted budget that state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle approved almost two weeks ago.
Malloy's veto, while not unexpected, is a temporary setback to bipartisan legislative support for a new approach that breaks with past bad budget habits and embraces the long-term structural changes Connecticut needs to get its economy on track.
"Now more than ever, Connecticut needs our state legislators to come together in a true bipartisan fashion to solve the state's fiscal crisis," CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan said.
The bipartisan budget, among other things, made long-term structural reforms, including stronger caps on spending and borrowing, mandatory legislative votes on union contracts, and further changes to state employee pension and other benefit costs.
In his veto message, Malloy criticized the $40.7 billion two-year budget, saying it was out of balance, risked litigation from state employee unions, and cut higher education too deeply.
Veto Override Unlikely
The governor announced the veto the same day he and legislative leaders from both parties resumed budget negotiations at the State Capitol.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano of North Haven called on his fellow legislators to override the veto.
But with Republicans needing votes from 29 Democrats in the House and six in the Senate, an override appears unlikely.
Connecticut needs state legislators to come together in a true bipartisan fashion to solve the state's fiscal crisis.
So it's now up to lawmakers to put their differences aside and work toward a common goal.
New Direction Needed
Brennan said incorporating good ideas from both sides of the aisle offers the best hope for resolving the budget deadlock.
"The veto should not hamper the emerging bipartisan consensus for a budget that will close the deficit and put Connecticut on a more sustainable fiscal path," he said.
"This spirit of cooperation must lead productive negotiations and get Connecticut past the unsuccessful policies that have resulted in a damaging cycle of deficits followed by tax hikes followed more of the same."
Well-meaning but ill-advised policies damaged Connecticut's business climate, and the resulting economic stagnation has harmed revenues, lowered investment, and caused some companies and residents to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Large, broad-based tax increases will only worsen the problem.
Long-term structural changes are overdue.
"Connecticut must change direction now," Brennan said.
Businesses Watching, Willing to Help
The business community is willing to help move the process forward toward a state budget that fosters, rather than prevents, economic prosperity for everyone.
"Our state has tremendous economic assets and potential that includes world-class businesses and industry, a great workforce, excellent educational institutions, and much more," Brennan said.
"But unless we do a better job of nurturing our economy, we will continue to trail other states in the stiff competition for investment and talent."