The red ink in the state’s 2009 budget is rising and Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Wednesday that she will be calling the legislature back into a special session Jan. 2 to address it.
“Some will question why I am calling the Legislature into session five days before the next regular session is slated to begin,” Rell said in a press release. “The answer is as simple as it is stark: We cannot put off reality. We cannot wait to take action. The Legislature – the sitting Legislature – needs to take action.”
Rell said her proposal to eliminate this fiscal year’s $356 million deficit doesn’t call for raising taxes, laying off state employees or spending the state’s $1.4 billion budget reserve. Over the next two years the state’s budget deficit is expected to grow to $6 billion.
The deficit mitigation plan Rell submitted Wednesday calls for shifting $17.9 million in public campaign finance funds and $35 million in energy assistance funds back to the general fund and includes $7.2 million in spending cuts. It also resurrects the controversial bottle bill, which failed to gain much traction during the Nov. 24 special session.
In addition Rell’s plan calls for taking $12 million from the state’s tobacco and health trust fund, $10 million from the renewable energy investment fund; and $10 million from farmland preservation, affordable housing and historic preservation accounts.
She also wants to put off the hiring of 50 new juvenile probation officers, five judges, and support staff associated with a new program that would move 16-and-17-year-olds from adult to juvenile courts.
Rell has already ordered two rounds of budget cuts – the first a cut of $150 million and, most recently, a cut of $34 million.
During the Nov. 24 special session the General Assembly cut the deficit by about $72 million, but the red ink continued to rise and state law required Rell to submit another deficit mitigation plan.
“We all know Connecticut families – and state government itself – face incredibly difficult times right now,” Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said in a statement Wednesday. “We appreciate Gov. Rell’s sense of urgency in addressing the budget deficit and it is something we share. I will immediately begin reviewing the budget mitigation plan and sharing it with my caucus members.”