Connecticut lawmakers end challenging session

HARTFORD, Conn. -- State lawmakers have wrapped up what's been a challenging legislative session.

While they authorized a new tribal casino, the General Assembly failed on Wednesday — the final day of the session — to finish their biggest task. They still have to pass a new, two-year state budget that covers a projected $5 billion deficit.

Lawmakers will have to return to the Capitol to reach an agreement with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on a roughly $40 billion plan. Legislative leaders hope to reach a deal before the state's fiscal year ends June 30, but it's unclear if that's possible.

Despite the lack of a budget, legislators ended the session at a typical frenzied pace, passing bills such as a so-called lockbox to protect transportation funds, but they failed to pass legislation allowing electric carmaker Tesla to open stores in Connecticut, or a measure protecting women's health care.

The legislative session was marked by the closest partisan divide in recent memory along with the continued disagreement over how to cover a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit.

With an 18-18 split in the Senate and a slim 79-72 Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, it's been more challenging to pass some proposals this year. That was also the case on Wednesday, with bills concerning the Millstone nuclear power plant and protections for women's health care in limbo.

The evenly split Senate was at odds Wednesday afternoon, with Republicans wanting to debate their budget proposal and Democrats saying there isn't enough time. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff called the GOP proposal "a complete shock and surprise to us."

Despite it being a challenging session, lawmakers took a moment to thank Speaker of the House, Joe Aresimowicz, for the way the session was conducted as a whole, and Aresimowicz said he owed it all to his late mother.

“It really does come down to a simple thing…as many of your know, I was very close to my mother, who I lost a few years ago, and she always told me the most important thing you can do is respect people," said Aresimowicz. "The majority leader and I, and the minority leader and I, all talked about it, and we all respect you a great deal, and the most thing we should respect is your time, so we did that this year.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.