Ruling on lawsuit seeking block of state budget could come today
Lawsuit battle continues: Ruling on block could come as soon as today
A ruling could come as soon as Monday in a lawsuit that seeks to block implementation of the state budget, a plaintiff said Sunday.
But that would likely just be the opening salvo of a battle that is headed for the state Supreme Court, said Tom Scott of the Roger Sherman Liberty Center. "I have no doubt that's where this is headed," the Milford conservative said. "If we lose, we'll appeal it and I expect that the attorney general's office would too."
A quick decision is needed because of two looming deadlines: the adjournment of the state Legislature next month and the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, he said.
The eight-page suit filed Friday in Hartford Superior Court asks to have the 2011-13 state budget signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declared "null and void" because it violates the 1992 law requiring a balanced budget.
Malloy has said that negotiations continue with a consortium of state employee unions, seeking more than $1 billion in concessions, and if a deal isn't reached, layoffs and program cuts would be used to balance the budget.
David Bednarz, the governor's spokesman, said they researched the claim when the argument was first raised.
"We've reviewed the matter and are confident that it is fully compliant with the Connecticut constitution and that the courts and won't interfere with the duly adopted budget of the State of Connecticut," Bednarz said.
Scott and Jack Fowler, the publishers of the National Review magazine, formed the Roger Sherman Liberty Center last month at the New Haven site where the signer of the Declaration of Independence once lived.
Scott, a former state senator who organized opposition to the state income tax in the 1990s, said "smoke and mirrors" have been used to balance state budgets before, "but this is the first time one was passed with a built-in deficit. It's bogus by their own admission."
The lawsuit doesn't seek to have a judge create a budget for the state, but to send the entire matter back to the Legislature for another go at it. Scott said he would have been satisified with the Republican alternative, which balanced the books without raising taxes, but even that package had flaws.
Through a separate group, the Yankee Institute, Scott and Sen. Joseph Markley, R-Southington, targeted Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, and Sen. Joseph Crisco, D-Bethany in a series of phone calls to voters recently.
It would be "presumptuous," Scott said Sunday, to assume that Slossberg's vote against the budget last week was a result of pressure from constituents, "but the fact is that she was right to vote no."
Slossberg said she voted against the budget because it included spending for new programs and projects. "My father always taught me if you can't pay your bills, you don't buy anything new," she said.