I bet you’re wondering how the budget negotiations are going. Don’t ask.
Rell spoke to reporters briefly outside her office in the Capitol, shortly after the top Democratic and Republican leaders of the legislature emerged from an hour-long meeting inside Rell’s office and expressed frustration about a lack of progress in agreeing on cuts.
The Democrats – including House Speaker Christopher Donovan of Meriden and Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams of Brooklyn – said Rell has not produced a comprehensive list of additional cuts for them to evaluate.
The Republican legislative minority leaders – Lawrence Cafero of Norwalk in the House and John McKinney of Fairfield in the Senate – said Democrats have not considered a long list of about $1 billion in reductions they offered weeks ago.
The thing is, the Democrats have the supermajority. They should be in the drivers’ seat when it comes to the budget. Of course, it’s apparently impossible for the Democrats to work out a budget amongst themselves, so they negotiate with the governor instead. All indications suggest they’re not doing a great job of it, though–there’s still no agreement in sight, and a special session to determine the budget seems all too likely.
Democrats should come up with a budget and pass it–then dare the governor to veto it. They believe they know the size of the deficit, so why not plan for that instead of waiting for the governor?
However, the Democrats haven’t been having a confidence-inspiring year (again). The $220 million the Democrats swore they had found has turned out to be a lot less. Also, it looks like there’s a loophole in the furlough agreement that allows managers to get paid for that day off. How did that happen?
The budget needs to happen sooner rather than later. Towns are setting their budgets without knowing what their share of state aid will be. If there’s no budget until late summer or fall, it’s the towns that will suffer for it.
Tax Hikes in MA
A possible preview of things to come is happening up over the northern border in Massachusetts. Their state senate has recently passed a budget that cuts spending, raises taxes and somehow also raises spending. I’m not sure how that works either.
The MA sales tax will be going up to 6.5%. I would like to point out to all my friends in Western Massachusetts that the Enfield shopping areas are right over the border, and for the first time in forever we will have lower sales taxes (6.0% versus 6.5%) than you. At least for now!