Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell claimed Friday that there was $32 million less in the off-budget accounts than Democratic lawmakers had first hoped when they passed the deficit mitigation plan on Feb. 25.
Democrats have not yet finished their review of the off-budget accounts where they hope to find $220 million in cuts, but Rell said her office has finished its own review and only found $188.4 million in potential cuts, $32 million below the target.
Rell’s office also concluded that $188.4 million could only be found if several key programs were drained of funding. Some of the accounts that would need to be wiped out include the state’s investment in stem cell research, public funding for elections, historic preservation, and the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Trust fund.
House Speaker Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden, said Rell is “flat out wrong.”
“We did the hard work to find these savings, and the status of many of them is still being concealed by the administration,” Donovan said in a press release Friday evening. “Statements of this kind are counterproductive to the kind of bipartisan solutions we need to help the people of Connecticut through this economic crisis.”
“Unfortunately, I am not surprised by the results of this review – my budget office said from the beginning that these ‘newly discovered funds’ were mostly depleted, restricted or needed to pay for important ongoing programs,” Rell said. “The savings simply are not there. Even more troubling, this means there is a major hole in the Democrats’ deficit mitigation plan – one I am worried they will try to fill by dipping even further into the state’s Budget Reserve Fund – the ‘Rainy Day Fund.”
The Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee was given until March 25 to find the $220 million in cuts to these off-budget accounts.