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Budget Wrangling

There are reports today suggesting legislative Democrats have come up with an alternative budget proposal to close combined deficits of $1 billion.

Democrats have not shared any proposals with the governor's office or legislative Republicans. Wednesday, a spokesman for Governor Malloy said the governor has no interest in signing a budget deal he has not been part of. This appears to be a second veto threat in as many weeks. This is unusual since both the governor's office and the legislature are controlled by Democrats.

The current legislative session is scheduled to end next Wednesday.

Identifying the Challenges

The Commission for Economic Competitiveness is out with its first report identifying some of the major challenges facing Connecticut.

Agreeing with language being used in recent months by Governor Malloy, the commission's first published report suggests the Connecticut economy has settled into a "new normal" marked by; reduced growth, a changing population and fundamental changes in the traditional business sectors that - for years - were the engines of Connecticut's economic strength.

The next step in the commission's work is to identify strategies and develop tactics to execute those strategies.

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Q-Poll

Last week's Quinnipiac Poll had some telling numbers on the thinking of Connecticut voters as they head to the polls in Tuesday's presidential primary.

Most of the coverage of the poll last week was focused on the race itself, but as telling were the numbers on top issues among likely voters.

30% of voters in each party said the "economy and jobs" are their top concerns. Up to 12% in each party said state government spending needs to be reduced. Only concerns about terrorism came close to jobs, the economy and government spending as a top issue.

GOP Budget

While Democrats prepare to vote this week on a budget plan many think Governor Malloy will be forced to veto, Republican lawmakers introduced an alternative on Monday.

Far from dismissing the GOP plan as dead on arrival, a spokesman for Malloy thanked Republicans for putting forward a thoughtful proposal while acknowledging more work would be needed to secure the governor's approval. This is a long way from politics as usual, but still also a long way from a deal.

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Progress on Regionalization

by Mary Glassman

The stroke of midnight on May 4 will signal the official close of Connecticut’s 2016 legislative session. Regardless of what bills pass during the last few days at the Capitol, this session clearly marks the beginning of a bold approach to regional cooperation, and it paves the way for us to meet the state’s growing needs and demographic changes.

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Malloy on Budget - ICYMI

In case you missed it - Governor Dannel Malloy was a guest last week on WNPR's Where We Live program, during which he had a spirited discussion with host John Dankosky about the state of the Connecticut budget.

Malloy was very insistent during the interview about the need to balance the budget this year without raising taxes and used several arguments Republicans have used for years to make his point.

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Veto Showdown?

According to several reports, Democrats in the legislature have been told to plan to be in Hartford this week to vote on budget fixes to close deficits of as high as $1 billion.

But there are also suggestions that Democrats are planning to vote on a budget that includes professional fee increases and delays in business tax credits. This would seem to be in conflict with Governor Malloy's goal of closing the current deficit without raising taxes. It means a gubernatorial veto of a Democratic budget is more likely. 

Troubling Trends

by CT21 Staff

The under-performance of the local labor market, the high-profile move by General Electric to Massachusetts and chronic political battles over the state budget, are among the factors contributing to structural problems in the Connecticut economy.

This bleak assessment is the conclusion reached by economist Don Klepper-Smith in a newsletter to clients of DataCore Partners, an economic forecasting consultancy.

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Unusual Circumstances

A strange dynamic is setting up at the state capitol in the final two weeks of the legislative session.

It appears legislative Democrats, unhappy with a new budget proposal put forward by Governor Malloy, are about to move forward with their own budget plan regardless of the governor's position on the issue. This could lead to a veto by Malloy and an alliance between Malloy and legislative Republicans to uphold such a veto.

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Budget Back in Red

The routine monthly letter from the Office of Policy and Management to the state comptroller illustrates the fragile condition of the Connecticut budget.

Less than a month after closing a shortfall of more than $200 million, the budget is projected to be in the red again by about $141 million. That number is likely to go higher.

The news prompted this statement from Governor Malloy:

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Budget Talks

Budget talks are taking an unusual turn this week at the state capitol.

It appears Democrats in the legislature are not happy with a budget plan presented last week by Governor Malloy and have decided to come up with a plan of their own. Meanwhile, Malloy plans to discuss budget options privately with legislative Republicans.

This could be a sign that Democratic legislative leaders have decided they plan to use their superior numbers to push through a budget on their terms. It remains to be seen whether such a plan truly develops and whether Governor Malloy is willing to sign it. All parties are trying to close a nearly $1 billion projected deficit.

Only Agreement So Far on Taxes

With less than three weeks to go in the current legislative session it appears the only budget issue all sides agree on is the need to avoid any new tax increases.

Other than that - legislative Democrats and Republicans seem to be at odds over how to close a nearly $1 billion budget gap. Governor Malloy is said to be growing impatient with the lack of progress. This weekend he published an article in the Hartford Courant explaining his budget priorities.

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