Top Republican leaders said Monday that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy\’s budget was unbalanced from the moment he delivered it last month, citing a new report by the legislature\’s nonpartisan fiscal office.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis says the projected deficit for the fiscal year that starts on July 1 is $69.4 million. The latest fiscal report focuses on the next fiscal year that starts July 1, and it does not have an impact on the current year\’s budget.
In the current year, which ends on June 30, the state has a projected surplus of more than $500 million partly because the state reaped huge capital gains from taxpayers due to the skyrocketing advances on Wall Street in 2013 that state officials believe will not be duplicated in 2014.
Senate GOP leader John McKinney of Fairfield and House GOP leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk said that Malloy\’s proposed state budget would have broken the state-mandated spending cap if it included all the items that are now being considered, including additional money for magnet schools and retirees\’ healthcare.
“It is clear now that the governor willfully disregarded what people in his own administration presented to him in their budget requests last October and November, months before he put out his budget,\’\’ Cafero said Monday. “We know now the budget was out of whack the moment he dropped it and exceeded the spending cap.’’
Citing documents from the nonpartisan fiscal office, the Republicans said that Democratic state comptroller Kevin Lembo had sought nearly $52 million on October 12, 2013 for health insurance for state retirees. The reason is that more than 800 employees in the Department of Correction are eligible to retire, but the governor\’s budget anticipates that fewer than 300 employees will retire.
The Republicans also cited a request by the state education department on Nov. 13, 2013 for nearly $34 million in additional funding for magnet schools. The fiscal office now estimates a shortfall of nearly $19 million in the account for magnet schools.
“The governor had a fiduciary responsibility to present the legislature and the people of Connecticut with a balanced budget and he failed to meet that responsibility,\’\’ McKinney said. \”What’s worse is that the omitted expenditures look intentional. How else can [state budget director Ben] Barnes and Governor Malloy explain shortchanging two areas of their budget they said were priorities?\’\’
Malloy\’s spokesman, Andrew Doba, responded, “The governor’s budget proposal is balanced. If it were passed today, we would live within it.”
\”In contrast to previous administrations, Governor Malloy has shown that he can manage to the bottom line. That’s why we’ve held growth to less than 2.8 percent over the course of his term. It’s clear that many in the Republican caucus will say anything to score cheap political points,\’\’ Doba said. \”If they were serious about managing the state’s finances, they would put forward a budget. But we all know they aren’t going to do that.\’\’
Administration officials believe they can manage the budget within the current totals, and they do not consider the projected deficit to be a major issue. A projected deficit of $69 million represents a tiny fraction of an overall budget of about $22.3 billion, including off-budget accounts, that is managed by commissioners, budget officials, and the governor. Continue reading