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CT State Budget Talks Behind Closed Doors Raise Eyebrows

Gov. Malloy issued a call for a Special Session of the Connecticut General Assembly to deal with the growing state deficit. 

The State Senate and State House of Representatives convened Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. and then recessed until 4:30 p.m. so that elected officials could attend funerals and memorial services resulting from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Upon reconvening, there is a vote scheduled to arrange a plan to resolve Connecticut's $415 million budget deficit.

Malloy has already made $123 million in cuts, mostly to social services and Connecticut's public colleges and universities. The cuts to UConn, Connecticut State University and the state's community colleges follow Malloy's previous cuts to Connecticut's public institutions of higher education - considered the deepest in Connecticut history.

As The Hartford Courant noted in Wednesday's edition: 

In addition to the budget, lawmakers are expected to take up one additional item: a measure that would exempt Sandy Hook Elementary School from complying with a state law requiring schools to remain in session for at least 180 days.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle had informally agreed not to negotiate the budget deal in public. "The discussions were bipartisan,'' said incoming House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden. "All four caucuses contributed equally to the discussion and, in the end, it appears as though we've come up with a package that will generate support from all four caucuses."

House Republican Leader Larry Cafero said the agreement was reached through "a lot of hard work and compromise."

"It was a bipartisan effort that involves tough choices that needed to be made,'' Cafero said. "Our options were few, yet I believe we were finally able to come together and make the best decisions for the people of Connecticut."

CTNewsjunkie explained:

The think-tank of economists concluded that cutting spending by more than $200 million in each of the next fiscal years could trigger hundreds of thousands of job losses.

“Such cuts would cost more than 5,000 jobs each year; if cuts rose to a billion dollars, the result would be a loss of about 25,000 jobs each year, eliminating essentially all jobs created since the recovery began,” analysts at the center concluded after running the two scenarios through economic models.

The state’s budget next year is about $1.3 billion in the red and just shy of one billion the following year.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he doesn’t intend to raise taxes, which leaves him with very few choices.

The state does provide hospitals with funds to help offset care that the hospitals provide to non-insured people. However, massive cuts to hospitals would definitely threaten the level of services at some hospitals and lead to a major shift in costs from those state grants to those who are insured. That cost shift will translate into higher health insurance premiums for those of us who have insurance. So is the legislature's vote going to push our health insurance premiums higher? Is that fair?

And cutting out longevity bonuses for non-union workers is certainly understandable, but it solves about 1 percent of the state budget deficit. 

So where are cuts coming from?

While action is definitely needed to bring Connecticut's budget deficit under control, passing a plan that has never seen the light of day is not only incredibly inappropriate, but it is down-right unfair and undemocratic.

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