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Malloy veto costs taxpayers $11,000 for special session

For a state facing billions in projected deficits, $11,000 may seem like a drop in the bucket, but that is what it will cost Connecticut taxpayers when lawmakers convene for a special session to override Gov. Dannel Malloy’s veto of a bill to save a popular Medicare program.

The Senate and House passed a bill during special session on January 8 to restore funding to the popular Medicare Savings Program, which helps poor and disabled seniors pay medical costs. The bill passed with a super-majority in both houses.

Malloy, who has largely been pushed out of budget negotiations, said the Medicare fix relied on “budget gimmickry” and “wishful thinking” and threatened a veto.

Despite the overwhelming support in the General Assembly and the near-certain assurance the legislature would override a veto, Malloy made good on this threat and vetoed the legislation anyway.

That single signature will cost Connecticut taxpayers $11,000, according to the Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Opening the Capitol for session requires extra staff, mileage reimbursement for lawmakers, overtime for the Capitol Police and other miscellaneous costs, which add up to $11,000.

The OFA report, written in 2010, posited an additional $9,600 for the cost of marshals to deliver the special session notices directly to lawmakers, but Connecticut switched to electronic notices in 2016.

It is doubtful that legislative costs have decreased since 2010 and the true cost of special session — like most other costs in state government — is likely higher at this point.

2017 was a year marked by extensive special sessions, after the legislature was unable to reach a budget deal before the end of session in June. According to the Office of Legislative Management, during 2017 there were 8 special sessions, and 1 special session for 2018.

Thus far, Connecticut taxpayers have paid at least $99,000 for special sessions to negotiate or fix the 2017 budget.

Malloy’s veto and the special session to take place on January 31st to override that veto would put the total costs over $110,000.

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Marc E. Fitch

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