As she prepared to head into budget negotiations Monday afternoon, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she plans on talking about more than just the tax and spending plan for the next two years.
She said because state revenues have fallen more than $2 billion, the state must look at canceling some of the projects previously authorized by the legislature. She said the dip in revenue has put the state closer to the statutory borrowing cap than expected and canceling 2007 bond authorizations will be necessary.
At Valley Falls Park in Vernon Monday morning Rell said she has a list of projects she will present to legislators at the meeting.
“I also have a list of some of the spending cuts that have been proposed by the Republicans, as well as the Democrats, that may not have been in my budget,” Rell said. “I have had OPM go through those and see which ones are feasible and which ones may not be.”
Rell and the legislature’s Democratic majority have been at odds at how to deal with an estimated $8.56 billion budget deficit for the next two fiscal years.
“We’re inching along, but we’re moving,” Rell said describing the pace of negotiations.
Connecticut is one of only two states has not passed a budget. Pennsylvania is the other.
On Friday Democratic lawmakers revived their efforts to win public support for their budget, which raises taxes and fees by about $2 billion, over Rell’s budget, which raises taxes and fees by about $524 million.
Most of the taxes in the Democratic budget proposal would come from an increased income tax on wealthier residents. They say the public favors that kind of tax hike and have urged the public to help them make their case to Rell.
But with Democratic lawmakers in the majority Rell said if they have the votes, then they should vote.
“If you don’t have the votes you talk, and if you do have the votes you vote,” Rell said. “Obviously they’re spending a lot of time talking.”
Connecticut Conservation Corps
In the absence of a state budget, Rell touted the use of federal stimulus funds to pilot a Connecticut Conservation Corps program at four state parks.
Rell says she hopes the program which employees 30 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 will be expanded next year. Rell proposed using $7.5 million to create the Connecticut Conservation Corps, which is fashioned after the Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservations Corps established during the Great Depression.
Rell had envisioned employing 200 people to build picnic tables, clear trails, and cut back overgrown areas. Without a state budget, the Department of Environmental Protection partnered with the Labor and Workforce Investment Boards to use some of the $11 million in federal stimulus funds earmarked for summer youth employment to set up the CCC pilot program.
Participants, who earn $8 an hour for their work, have been working on projects in Hampton, Ellington, Union, and Madison.
Greg Barnes, one of the participants, said his team has been working to clear some trees from a portion of Hammonasett State Park. He said he’s been using a lot of different tools that he’s never used before and has learned a lot about the environment.