This year’s regular Connecticut legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday. For lawmakers their work will continue in a special sessions because they are have not reached an agreement on the state’s next two-year budget.
The problem is that Connecticut’s next two-year $40 billion budget is projected to be about $5 billion in deficit. That gap will have to be closed either by raising new revenue or cutting government spending. Two things lawmakers find difficult to do.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a Berlin Democrat, says legislative leaders have decided to deal with the issue in a special session.
“We’ve already committed to go into special session for the budget, which takes a lot of pressure off the table. So it’s just working through the bills, making sure we get members’ bills passed in the coming hours.”
Aresimowicz says controversial bills aimed at raising new revenue, like the return of highway tolls, casino expansion and legalization of recreational use of marijuana will probably be on the agenda in the budget session. He says if a vote were to be scheduled on marijuana legalization now it would probably fail.
“But when you are talking about marijuana within the discussions of a budget and deciding what’s more important and on its face what’s more objectionable, that could change.”
That’s because a budget vote is an up or down vote on the entire package.
Aresimowicz says he’s hoping they’ll reach agreement before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
“We are going to put into place a plan starting next week of daily meetings and discussions bringing outside folks in to really formulate our plan for the budget and then put something at least on the table for those negotiations. Our goal is still June 30th because on July 1st it changes dramatically.”
And that’s because the law requires Governor Dannel Malloy to take charge of state spending if lawmakers fail to pass a budget by July 1. The governor would remain in charge of state spending until a budget is passed.