Since she first unveiled her budget in February, Democratic lawmakers have been waiting for Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell to acknowledge that the budget’s deficit is much worse than she initially reported.
Rell’s Thursday announcement that revenue estimates are down $1.4 billion for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 prompted Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, to call her “dishonest.”
“The governor is being dishonest with the people of Connecticut, she did not tell the truth about the depth of the fiscal crisis when she released her budget on Feb 4th and she has continued to ignore the truth about the deficit we face: a fundamental truth that is recognized by both Democratic and Republican legislators,” Williams said in a statement Thursday.
Rell spokesman Chris Cooper fired back, saying Williams’ “lack of leadership has been stunning.”
“That is a shameful statement, made by a Democrat legislative leader who has not led and has not taken one action on his own to deal with Connecticut’s fiscal crisis,” Cooper said.
In a statement released Thursday, Williams said that the vacations Rell and her staff members have taken “have delayed labor negotiations and the securing of concessions that she has promised to deliver.”
Williams’ accusations stem from Rell’s Thursday release adjusting the deficit for the next two years to $7.4 billion. Rell’s Feb. 4 budget proposal of $38.4 billion closed a $6 billion deficit.
In his report to the state comptroller, Rell’s Budget Secretary Robert Genuario said “frankly, these revenue deteriorations are not altogether surprising given the worsening national economy and the steep drop in almost every leading economic indicator over the last two months.”
Genuario said that while the numbers are a concern, he still believes that his two-year projected deficit will be far below that projected by OFA.
Genuario’s office is projecting a $7.4 billion budget deficit. The legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis is projecting an $8.7 billion deficit.
“The fact is that the Democrats have been dysfunctional in the face of this unprecedented budget crisis,” Cooper said. “They have accomplished absolutely nothing and have shown zero leadership during the three months lawmakers have been in session. Dissembling, delaying and diverting attention will not balance the budget.”
“Let’s not get facts in the way of a good insult,” Williams’ spokesman Derek Slap said Friday. “We’ve been waiting 51 days for her to present a balanced budget and secure labor concessions, which she’s been unable to do in part because she’s peddling a phony budget.”
Slap added that what Rell is doing is nothing less than laundering $3 billion.
The legislature’s spending and tax committees are expected to report on their own proposals next week.