Vote On Long-overdue State Budget Expected Today

(CBS Connecticut) — Budget votes are expected in the Connecticut House and Senate today.

The state has already gone more than two months without a formal budget plan.

Emerging from talks in the governor’s office, top General Assembly Democrats say they have reached substantial agreement with the governor, with only a few, unspecified hiccups remaining.

State Senate President Martin Looney says a rival Republican budget plan could not be enacted.

“The only budget that has a chance of becoming law is the one we are now working on.  [The governor] has made it clear regardless of what the Republicans propose, that will be vetoed.  That is only an exercise.  We are working on the real thing,” Looney said.

Democrats say if their budget is not adopted, the only realistic alternative is to continue under the governor’s stopgap spending plan.

That would trigger painful cuts to city and town funding that might unravel the financial plans of several communities.

Ideas intended to address a $3.5-billion dollar deficit include a tax or surcharge on cell phone bills, reducing the property tax credit, and adding a tax on big-ticket real estate deals.

As part of the budget, the city of Hartford is expected to get extra state money it was seeking to help balance its budget.

Democratic House Majority Leader Matt Ritter says the money will come with a panel to help improve the city’s finances.

“Its called a Municipal Accountability Review Board, which has been a proposed bill for a long time.  They don’t run the city.  The city council and the mayor run the city.  They are there to review and make recommendations at this point in time,” Ritter said. “If things do not get better in the next 8 or 9 months, and the city is not realizing things that it needs, that board could turn from advisory to having more concrete powers and authority.”

Hartford officials had built a $40-million hole into their budget, assuming the state would increase funding.

Mayor Luke Bronin recently threatened bankruptcy if a state budget is not passed soon.

At the time, Bronin pushed back against the idea of an oversight board, saying the city has the right financial team in place.

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