Democratic leadership asked the Democratically-controlled Appropriations Committee Thursday in this letter
to come up with an additional $2.8 billion in cuts by March 9.
Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said he wants lawmakers and the public to see what Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s budget released on Feb. 4 should have looked like if it had truly closed the estimated $8.7 billion budget deficit for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.
Democrats have said since Rell’s budget was released that it only closed a $6 billion gap when the legislature’s budget office has estimated a $8.7 billion deficit for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.
Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden said lawmakers and the public deserve a “clear picture” of the budget deficit because the reality is that even “if we laid-off every state employee the state would only save about $2.6 billion.”
“There’s the belief out there that right now the budget is balanced,” Donovan said. He said that belief ignores a $2.8 billion deficit.
Williams said there’s no way to close the state budget deficit “without having all of the options on the table.”
Republican lawmakers like Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Somers, said the Democratic majority is using “fear mongering” tactics, instead of addressing the actual problem. “It’s a serious matter and it gets more serious every day,” she said. She said Democratic lawmakers were just playing a game, which is “unfair to the public.”
Michael Cicchetti, deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, wondered “why are we wasting time.”
“I think it’s obvious who has the ability to make the hard choices: the Governor,” Cicchetti said. He said she’s the only one who has put forward any cuts, while the majority party has done nothing.
Both Donovan and Williams refused to offer any tax increases as part of the solution to close the budget deficit even though many tax increases are being entertained by the Democratically-controlled Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee.
“The governor believes you cannot tax your way out of this problem,” Cicchetti said.
The Office of Policy and Management met with the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis and the state Comptroller’s office Wednesday to see if they couldn’t reconcile some of the difference in their deficit projections. Cicchetti said they shared various interpretations of the estimated revenue collections and agreed to meet again.