The following editorial was written by Wilton’s state representative, Gail Lavielle (R-143), and sent to her constituents. It explains what will happen in the capital once Gov. Ned Lamont presents his budget to lawmakers today, Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Here Comes the Budget
[Today], Wednesday, Feb. 20, Gov. Lamont will present his 2020-21 biennial budget proposal to the full legislature. That will be the beginning of a process that will take at least the full length of the legislative session, which ends on June 5, to complete. In recent years, it has sometimes taken much longer.
The Budget Process
As a reminder, here is how the process works. The legislature, not the governor, develops and votes on the budget. The governor’s proposal provides a framework and a baseline that the legislature usually works from to write its own budget. The governor may veto any budget that passes, but the legislature may also override that veto. The possibility of the veto usually makes negotiation between the governor and the legislature necessary, even when the legislative majority and the governor share the same party, as is the case right now. In the legislature, the Appropriations Committee is responsible for the spending side of the budget, and the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee for the revenue side.
Following the governor’s address, the governor’s budget director, OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw, will present the details of the budget to the Appropriations Committee on Thursday, and will answer questions. Shortly thereafter, the Finance Committee will hear the same presentation.
On Tuesday, Feb. 26, begins a series of Appropriations Committee budget hearings that lasts for two weeks. Every morning, several department heads present their detailed budgets to the Committee, and in the late afternoons/evenings, members of the public are invited to offer testimony. If you would like to testify on any budget line items, click here for the schedule. You may also submit written testimony via email.
While legislators of both parties collect information together in meetings during March and April, the majority party usually presents only its own budget for a vote in late April. The minority party may propose amendments to that budget or call its own budget as an amendment as well. Once a budget is approved by both Appropriations and Finance, it goes to the House and Senate chambers for a final vote, generally in late May or very early June. The original budget voted out of committee will likely change substantially before the votes in the House and Senate.
As Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, I will be heavily involved in the budget process and will be keeping you informed as it moves forward.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to discuss the state budget, or any other issue, further. I am always happy to hear from you.