HARTFORD—One day after Democratic leaders from the State Legislature said they were optimistic that they could reach a budget agreement with Republican Governor Jodi Rell, talks came to a screeching halt today.
"We believe we had options at the table that she was interested in. She wanted time to look at them and she looked at us and said she would have some positive information--toward something, we didn't know what it was, today." said Speaker of the House Chris Donovan.
Democratic leaders emerged from the meeting with the Governor befuddled and bewildered saying it was as if yesterday never happened.
"We have reason to believe that we can get a budget deal but the Governor is the hang-up at this point." said Senate President Don Williams.
The hang-up, Democrats say, is their plan to raise the income tax on wealthier residents in the State. Despite modifying their plan, they say it continues to be a major road-block with Rell. They also accused her of "protecting the rich" at the expense of the poor and middle-class. Democrats had proposed raising the income tax on couples making more than a half million dollars and on single filers making more than $260,000. Democrats would not go into specifics as to how they modified that plan.
"We have moved toward the Governor in every respect on taxes, on budget cuts." said Senate President Don Williams. "We moved substantially toward her position. What we need to see now is to have her come just a little bit toward us."
But Governor Rell called the Democratic budget plan "unaffordable" because it calls for raising taxes by 1.8 billion dollars. In a written statement Rell "The only real movement made by Democratic leadership is not forward or back, it is shuffling - shuffling revenue and taxes and fees from one column to another."
Connecticut and Pennsylvania are the only two States left in the nation without a budget. It is unclear when or if budget talks will resume. If they have to, Democratic Majority leaders said today that they will vote on a budget next week with or without the Governors blessing but even Senator Williams said he doesn't know if he has enough votes in his own party to override the Governor's veto.
Democrats are at odds with the Republican Governor as to how to plug a hole in the projected 8.5 billion dollar deficit.