HARTFORD, Conn. — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was criticized Friday for holding money back from municipalities to cover an $881.6 million gap that state lawmakers built into the newly passed, two-year $41.3 billion budget.
The Democrat’s fiscal office announced how the bulk of the $881.6 million — $700 million — will come from expected savings from the state employee labor concession agreement. But Malloy’s plan drew ire for reducing state aid to cities and towns by $91 million.
“Governor Malloy is completely ignoring the legislative intent of the state budget lawmakers passed last month,” said Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, accusing the governor of “inflicting deep cuts to municipalities and social services that legislators are committed to protecting” instead of adopting targeted savings identified by the General Assembly.
“Unfortunately, I took the administration for their word, which will never happen again,” Fasano said. “In true form, the governor is blatantly ignoring the will of the Legislature, and doing what he wanted to do all along.”
Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz called Malloy’s mid-year cuts “misguided,” noting how school funding was a “clear legislative priority” of the deal reached by Democratic and Republican legislators without Malloy in the room. Meanwhile, organizations representing municipalities expressed surprise and concern about the reductions. Malloy’s cuts come several weeks after lawmakers passed a budget four months into the fiscal year.
Kelly Donnelly, Malloy’s communications director, said if Fasano wanted to direct where the $881.6 million in savings should come from, he could have included that in the budget bill.
“He didn’t do that,” she said. “Rather, he took the much easier — and much more politically safe — route of accounting for the savings, but leaving it to the governor to allocate them.”
Malloy’s budget secretary, Ben Barnes, said adjustments are needed to achieve savings and the cuts let municipalities and agencies know how much funding to expect for the rest of the fiscal year.