HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Legislative leaders met with the Governor for the first time since the regular Assembly session ended last week. A top state lawmaker says a budget deal by July 1st does not appear to be in the cards. With just 17 days left in the budget year, the Governor is preparing to run the state by “Executive Order.” That’s the way it’s been done in the past, an Executive Order that lasts a month at a time while everyone keeps talking. Meanwhile; the red ink keeps piling up.
Adding to the financial bad news mix at the State Capitol is word that the UConn Medical Center in Farmington, which has been in the red for several years, is facing its biggest deficit yet; close to $60 million. Some of it because of the same reasons the state has so much red ink; rising employee benefit costs.
It’s just one more factor that legislative leaders meeting with the Governor for the first time since the regular General Assembly session ended, have on their very crowded budget crisis plate. Both the Governor and Republicans say the only alternative for the Health Center is to merge like other hospitals have done.
“We have a different world now. We’re seeing what’s happening with hospitals all around the state. UConn Health has to get together with either John Dempsey or Hartford Hospital; you need to get together and make that partnership,” said Sen. Len Fasano (R-North Haven) the Republican Senate President Pro tem.
But the leaders agree that the financial problem at the Health Center is small potatoes compared the differences they face on the overall state budget with Fasano saying Tuesday that a budget deal by July 1st does not appear to be in the cards.
After Tuesday’s brief meeting Gov. Malloy said, “What I indicated is that I would come out with principles that would guide how we expect to fund state operations after July 1 should we not have a budget.”
Malloy says that he expects that by the end of this week, the state workers labor unions executive committees will approve the concession deal for a rank and file vote so he will proceed on his plan to run the state without any layoffs.
But Republican leaders insist that the state employee unions must make even deeper concessions and there must be changes in the way the state bargains with the unions. Democrats say the concession deal is the best that can be expected. We appear to be at the same stalemate as last week. Now there is talk that the Democrats, with their narrow majority in both the House and Senate will try to craft a deal with the Governor without the Republicans.