Connecticut's chances of passing a two-year budget -- or even Gov. Dannel Malloy's stopgap quarterly plan -- on time dimmed considerably Tuesday.
The legislature postponed a vote for a fiscal 2018-19 plan, and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, would not allow a vote on Malloy's $317.5 million mini-budget. The governor has said that cuts in the mini-budget would be less draconian than the alternative.
"Everyone knows the mini-budget would be better than executive order," Malloy told reporters at the State Capitol in Hartford.
At his own press conference later in the afternoon, Aresimowicz said he would back the mini-plan only if legislative leaders were close to an agreement on a basic budget framework. He said he would not call back House members, some of whom are vacationing, to vote on a short budget.
"I will not do a mini-budget if it's to kick the can down the road," he said.
Malloy, a Democrat, and the legislature need to close a projected $5 billion deficit for fiscal 2018 and 2019. At play is Malloy's $39 billion spending plan. The state is gridlocked politically, with an 18-18 split between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the Democrats holding a 79-72 edge in the House.
Malloy said he would not approve the Republican budget version.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, criticized Aresimowicz.
"Connecticut is at a very, very serious fiscal crossroads," said Fasano. "Inaction on June 30 should not be an option. A lot of people are watching. The bonding [agencies] are watching. Municipalities are watching. Those who depend upon poor services are watching."
"It is inexcusable that we are not going to do anything on June 30."
Budget imbalance has prompted bond-rating agencies to hand Connecticut six downgrades over the past 13 months.
Moody’s Investors Service rates Connecticut general obligation bonds A1, while S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings assign A-plus ratings. Kroll Bond Rating Agency rates them AA-plus. Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey are the only states with ratings below double-A.