HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers are considering whether to override any of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s seven vetoes, including one bill that revamps a plan to pay off $550 million of Hartford’s debt.
The Democrat says the legislation makes “detrimental” changes to the Municipality Accountability Review Board, created in 2017 to help financially struggling municipalities. But proponents say the bill better defines the financial assistance being provided to the state’s capital city, while protecting taxpayer dollars.
“This veto practically ensures a rough road ahead for Hartford because absent this fix, the legislature probably won’t be willing to help Hartford in the future,” said Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, who has urged his colleagues to overturn the veto.
The veto session is scheduled for Monday. While the Senate is expected to meet then, it’s unclear when the House will convene.
Like many of the bills Malloy nixed, the Hartford legislation passed the General Assembly with strong support during the regular legislative session — 105-45 in the House of Representatives and 28-6 in the Senate. A veto can be overturned by a two-thirds vote by each chamber.
A look at some of Malloy’s vetoes:
The Hartford legislation came about after some lawmakers expressed surprise that last year’s budget called for paying off the city of Hartford’s debt over 20 years or longer.
Negotiated in the final days of the legislative session with Hartford officials, this year’s bill would limit state assistance to the capital city to five years and require legislative approval for future financial assistance to prevent deals without the General Assembly’s OK.
But Malloy said it’s critical the state have a mechanism in place like the new Municipality Accountability Review Board to step in and help save cities like Hartford that face potential bankruptcy.
The review board provides “just such a framework,” he said in his veto message. “It is workable, it is working and it should be left alone.”
Anger over Malloy’s decision to make mid-year cuts to state education aid to help balance the state budget led to the legislation preventing such reductions.
Malloy noted in his veto message that lawmakers were the ones who put him in the position of having to cut the financial assistance because they required him to meet unspecified spending targets and there was no enacted state budget in place at the time.
He said if the General Assembly wants to provide stability and predictability to cities and towns, then it should pass a budget that identifies specific savings and funding levels for education grants.
Lawmakers have argued there were other areas where Malloy could have cut. It’s questionable whether they’ll attempt to override the veto because they say there’s similar language in another bill Malloy has already signed into law.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities still wants an override, saying it will “protect and clarify in existing state statutes” that local education aid can’t be cut mid-year.
Lawmakers are also considering whether to overturn Malloy’s rejection of several other bills. The list includes legislation that creates a new process for removing problematic students from classrooms; expands a tax credit to smaller businesses that hire manufacturing apprentices; creates a registry of offenders who abuse animals; expands the duties of the state child welfare oversight council; and allows town clerks to choose an Election Day registration location when there’s a disagreement between the partisan registrars.