Budget Update

The General Assembly has now passed a bipartisan budget with veto-proof margins to fund the state for the next year and a half. Governor Malloy has signed the budget and line-item vetoed appropriations in support of a new hospital tax proposal and urged lawmakers to pass new language.  It is the Malloy administration’s contention that the language passed by the General Assembly is problematic.  This long awaited budget likely concludes a process that was supposed to have been finalized back in June, but the ongoing partisan stalemate prevented an agreement from being reached. Connecticut was the last state in the country to have passed a budget this year; Wisconsin came in second to last, which is an appropriate jumping off point as one of the sticking points of Connecticut’s budget negotiations was union power, which Wisconsin substantially damaged in their state.

The Republican caucus partnered with several Democrats and stood united in demands to weaken union rights for Connecticut’s state workers.  In a state with a thousand serious problems, a near majority of legislators were adamant that the biggest problem facing our state is working people with decent benefits.   Several of their demands made it into the final budget.

o       The new budget modifies the 30 day rule, under which a contract would become law unless the legislature took measures to block it. This budget changes that rule to require an affirmative vote on future contracts, creating the possibility that future contracts dying by never being called.

o       Limits all future SEBAC Agreements to no more than 4 years
This budget process was a very serious attack on collective bargaining, and while we were able to beat back most of the worst ideas, the tea party republicans who have spearheaded this attack are vowing to continue their mission to take our union rights away.  If ever there was an important reminder that we need to stand together,
this was it.  Whether we’re state employees, Paras, correction officers, childcare providers, or education experts what happens at
the legislature affects all of us, down to our very right to even have a union contract.

This budget is not something to celebrate.  It protects the wealthy from any new taxes, like the proposal to tax second homes, while simultaneously cutting aid to cities and towns.  The sad fact is that we will not win a budget that is fair to the middle class until the makeup of the general assembly changes for the better.

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