Connecticut ranks first among the states for its use of fiscal planning tools, according to a recently-released report from a D.C. think tank.
Under the state budgeting process, lawmakers set multi-year projections, ask a non-partisan agency to analyze the fiscal impact of legislation and put money into a “rainy day fund” that can be tapped in budget emergencies – all effective tools in long-term budget planning, according to the report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Connecticut also received praise for providing estimates of how much it would cost to continue delivering services at the current level, a projection that helps show when a governor’s proposed budget includes significant cuts to a state agency. The report cited Gov. Malloy’s 2011 budget as an example, and said that the baseline estimate allowed lawmakers to see that a $5 million cut to a department’s budget was, in fact, a more significant cut of $10 million when compared to the actual cost of continuing current services. The legislature reversed some of the cuts in the final budget it adopted, the report said, after “digging deeper” and learning about some of the programs Malloy wanted to cut.
Connecticut received low marks from the CBPP in just two of 10 categories: pension oversight and oversight of tax expenditures. The state needs regular reviews of future pension costs from an outside agency, and needs to better scrutinize the future costs of tax breaks, the report said.
Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, said Connecticut had a “transparent and accurate system of fiscal reporting.”