Fiscal Package Had Cleared House Earlier In The Day

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Connecticut Senate voted Wednesday night in favor of a two-year, $40.3 billion Democratic budget that drew sharp criticism from several of the state’s major employers for raising taxes.

The fiscal package cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate on a bipartisan vote of 19-17.

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The House, also controlled by Democrats, passed it 73-70 earlier in the day.

The vote came about a half-hour before the midnight adjournment Wednesday. It appeared uncertain whether there would be enough time to pass the legislation. The General Assembly’s minority Republicans were still debating the bill, prompting Senate President Martin Looney of New Haven to consider a controversial parliamentary procedure to stop the discussion.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano of North Haven agreed to stop debate, but said the GOP was frustrated by not being involved in the budget.

Many lawmakers had said they could not vote for the budget because of the tax hikes that will result. As things came down to the wire, there were reports that some lawmakers were being pressured to vote for the package.

Rep. Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, said he was not approached. He cast a vote opposing the budget, saying it did not do enough to help the middle class.

“I have to represent all my constituents,” Guerrera told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. “That’s who I was voted for up here. And I have to sleep at night.”

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Many of those who voted in favor noted the budget protects services that help the state’s most vulnerable people and begins to fund Gov. Dannel Malloy’s long-term transportation overhaul.

Plans to vote on the budget earlier in the week were scuttled after Connecticut-based General Electric Co., Aetna Inc. and the Travelers Companies Inc. each released rare public statements taking issue with about $700 million in business tax increases.

GE and Aetna both questioned whether they would remain in Connecticut.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden said earlier this week some changes were made to accommodate the businesses.

Malloy was asked Thursday if he broke a promise he made in January that the budget would not contain new taxes.

“I presented a budget that did not raise taxes,” he said. “No one was prepared to vote for that budget, but that’s the reality.”

Malloy said what changed over the last few months was that he initiated the massive transportation upgrade along with property tax reform.

The governor said he has spoken with the coporations that expressed displeasure with the budget and the discussions will continue.

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