CT State Budget Deficit

Senate Republicans want their fellow lawmakers and the public to know the deficit clock is ticking.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport, who helped unveil the clock Thursday on a 42-inch Samsung television borrowed from the Office of Legislative Management, said every second the legislature fails to plug the state deficit it grows, $10.14 per second to be exact. He said that means that every day the deficit is growing by $870,000.

By the end of the legislative session on June 3, McKinney estimated that the deficit will be around $363 million if the legislature fails to take action.

The deficit clock is “a constant visual remind of the economic crisis our state faces and the hardship the people in Connecticut face every single day,” McKinney said.

With an estimated $343 million deficit in 2009, lawmakers are expected to debate Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s second budget mitigation plan on Wednesday, Jan. 14.

The Democratic majority has said the work on the budget will start this Friday with a Finance Committee meeting, followed by an Appropriations Committee meeting on Monday to discuss Rell’s deficit mitigation plan.

The Democratic majority has pushed the deadline for the budget committees up two weeks, so it should be finished during the first week in April.

When asked about the impetus for the clock, McKinney said if this clock is seen as a gimmick and causes the majority party some discomfort then “good it should.” He said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need to be partners in this.

He said his worst fear is the legislature won’t do anything and at the end of the year by law it will automatically balance its budget with some of the $1.4 billion rainy day fund. He said that money needs to be saved for 2010, when the budget deficit is expect to be around $2.5 billion.

McKinney also wanted to make clear that if the Democratic majority wants to amend Rell’s deficit plan, then it better do so at least 48-hours before a vote. Dropping a plan on our desks hours before a vote is unacceptable, he said.