State Senate passes bill to close 2017 budget shortfall

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The State Senate has passed a bipartisan budget that fixes the current deficit. That’s the good news. The bad news is it only covers the next few weeks and an even bigger budget problem is still looming.

It was a late evening session for the State Senate, the first of many late nights to come if the legislature is going to come up with a budget plan before the end of the regular session.

Let’s start with the good news. The State Senate passed a bipartisan budget plan to cover the rest of this fiscal year. It has to be bipartisan, because the state senate is evenly split between democrats and republicans. This budget had to address the $317 million deficit in this year’s state budget. It does, and it manages to restore the $19 million in so-called Pequot funds that go to cities and towns at the end of the fiscal year. It also keeps about $30 million in the state’s rainy day fund. Basically, they moved money around in some state accounts to make everything work out.

Now this budget goes to the House. But this is just the beginning…and here’s the bad news. That budget passed Tuesday night is for the current fiscal year that ends in a month. Then a new two-year budget begins, and that one has a projected deficit of around $5 billion. Capitol watchers say there has been very little communication between the various caucuses that have to put that budget together.

Legislative leaders from both parties met with the governor Tuesday. When they walked out of his office, they said very little about the talks. Remember, Governor Malloy has already said he is not running for re-election next year, so he’s not going to be in office for all of this budget.

The regular legislative session ends one week from Wednesday. Nobody think they’re going to have a budget by then, which means a special session and even more late night sessions because they have to have a budget in place by July first.

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