While Democratic and Republican legislative leaders said they're continuing to make progress toward a possible bipartisan budget deal, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy expressed dismay Thursday over the slow pace of the negotiations among the lawmakers.
"I imagine, like most of the people of Connecticut, the last number of months since February have been frustrating, and here we are a week after leader-only meetings started without significant progress," Malloy told reporters after the day's legislative closed-door talks wrapped up.
While he's not in the room, he said it appears the lawmakers remain "hundreds of millions of dollars apart." The leaders have said the gap is closer to $100 million.
Democratic leaders have told rank-and-file Democrats to keep the week of Oct. 23 open for possible budget votes.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano told reporters Malloy's criticisms are unproductive.
"I think we're getting closer and closer," Fasano said. "We are definitely headed in an absolute right direction. There's still more hurdles to go, but we have worked out a lot of differences."
Malloy, after learning a tentative agreement won't be ready for him to review on Friday, suggested the leaders "maybe need to pick up the pace" of their closed-door negotiations. Malloy previously warned if a budget deal wasn't reached by the end of this week, lawmakers would have a difficult time passing a new two-year plan before Nov. 1 because of scheduling conflicts.
The leaders said they continued discussing the distribution of state education funding, details for a revised state spending cap and how to cover the cost of teacher pension payments.
Democratic Senate President Martin Looney said tentative agreements have been reached on some issues but the lawmakers want to take those to their rank-and-file members before revealing them publicly.