By Ken Dixon
HARTFORD – The 2013 legislative session roared to a close early this morning, with flurries of late-breaking bills in the House and Senate before the 12:01 a.m. deadline, then a cascade of cheers and hugs in the House.
The long, budget-setting session officially began in January, but it stretched back to November, when a huge budget deficit forced Democrats and Republicans to come together and craft special legislation.
The December 14 massacre added a stark urgency and was a major legislative session unto itself until the early April gun reforms were completed and lawmakers began to concentrate on drafting a two-year budget that faced a multi-billion-dollar deficit.
When it came time to finalize a budget, Republicans and Democrats took their separate corners, the latter group with their governor, where they skirted the state spending cap to remove $6.4 billion out of the two-year, $43.8 billion budget.
The move angered minority Republicans, but in the waning moments of the House and Senate Wednesday night, they worked together to punch through dozens of bills.
In the House alone, 19 bills were put on a list for unanimous consent just before the midnight deadline. By 12:30 a.m. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy walked to the House podium for an address to a joint gathering of the House and Senate.
Malloy was complimentary during a 7-minute speech in the packed House chamber.
“No budget is perfect, but let’s be clear, this budget gets the big things right,” Malloy said. “This budget was done on time. This budget refuses to kick the can down the road and properly funds our state pension obligation, saving us billions of dollars over the next 20 years.”
He began remarks recalling the Sandy Hook School shootings.
“It seems hard to believe that more than five months have passed since this legislative session began,” he said. “I think back to that cold day in January when we came together to begin our work, all of us reeling from the worst tragedy we could possibly imagine. Make no mistake about it, the bipartisan gun violence prevention bill that we passed will make our state safer.”
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