(Updated) Now that the 2010 budget deficit is resolved Republican lawmakers said it’s time to get to work on closing the more than $700 million deficit in 2011.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon Republicans unveiled a plan to balance the 2011 budget which includes no tax increases and no cuts to municipal aid.
According to Republican lawmakers their plan erases a $736 million deficit by rolling back spending levels to 2009, offering another early retirement program for state workers, consolidating state agencies, privatizing state agency functions, and asking the state employees union for another $150 million in concessions. It also asks the state pay $200 million pension payments it delayed.
Democratic lawmakers have asked the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis for an independent opinion on the plan.
“We must fix the budget hole we face in three weeks without raising taxes and without gutting social service programs,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said. “We must make government smaller and do away with programs we can no longer afford.”
Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell is expected to release her plan to close the 2011 budget gap on Monday. In a letter to legislators Rell said her plan for 2011 also does not increase taxes or cut municipal aid.
The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition says the Republican plan, like the recent deficit mitigation plan, does nothing to move the state out of this economic crisis.
“While the package contained fewer cuts than what the governor originally proposed, because of her adamant opposition to revenue increases even from multi-millionaires, the plan continues the illusion that we can cut our way out of Connecticut’s economic crisis,” the unions said in a press release. “The plan does nothing to provide jobs or help struggling families, which leading economists from both sides of the political spectrum have consistently said is what matters most in spurring real long-term recovery.”
House Speaker Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, didn’t pass judgment on the Republican proposal, but he did say the caucus is having the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis look it over.
“They seem to be double counting some things,” Donovan said Thursday.
As for a Democratic proposal Donovan said the Appropriations Committee put forth its budget proposal at the end of March. He said they are willing to sit down and talk with Republican lawmakers and Rell on their plans to resolve the 2011 budget deficit.
“We are disappointed that Republicans continue to support a tax break for multi-millionaires that will cost taxpayers $75 million. Republicans help pay for it by cutting funding for local school services – leading to a likely increase in municipal property taxes,” Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Under their plan the rich get a tax cut and everyone else pays for it – that’s not what families call common-sense.”
“However, there are some sound ideas in their proposal – including agency consolidations and job creating investments. We remain confident there is room for compromise and that a solution can be reached in the coming weeks.”
It remains to be seen if the philosophical differences between the legislature’s Democratic majority and the Republicans can be resolved before the session ends May 5.