State Comptroller Nancy Wyman certified a $63.4 million budget deficit Wednesday afternoon and at the same time closed the books on last year’s $449.4 million surplus.
Wyman, who is also the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, warned lawmakers not to get excited about the nearly $450 million surplus because if it hadn’t been for the $1 billion in federal stimulus funds or the $1 billion in borrowing the state really would have been running a $844.4 million deficit.
“State government was fortunate to have these one-time funds available to help weather the economic downturn, but there was little other positive news in a very difficult year for our state and our taxpayers,” Wyman said.
In her letter to Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Wyman said spending in 2010 was $26.8 million below the prior fiscal year, a decline of 0.2 percent. However, much of the low growth rate is attributable to payment deferrals. Historically, the state has increased spending at six percent over the past three fiscal years, adding about $2.7 billion in spending over that period of time, Wyman said.
The revenue side of the budget saw a modest increase, but still fell about $33 million short of budget expectations. Overall tax revenues grew just 1.7 percent in 2010 – well below the typical historical growth rate of about 5 percent.
Wyman attributed this to the economic downturn and associated job losses.
During the first six months of the fiscal year job losses totaled 15,100 payroll positions; in the second half of the fiscal year the state regained 13,300 of the lost jobs.
Heading into the third month of this fiscal year Connecticut’s budget is already starting to reveal structural deficits that were temporarily plugged the last two years with federal funds and borrowing.
Sales and income tax receipts are up and posting notable gains.
The income tax is expected to exceed original budget estimates by $127.5 million, and the sales tax is projected to end the year $153.8 million over budget.
“While we all hope that this positive trend in jobs and revenue continues, it is still far too early to call this a solid recovery,” Wyman said.
Wyman certified a $63.4 million deficit this fiscal year, which she attributes mostly to the $171.7 million in deficiencies from the state’s inability to find the savings promised in the budget.
Taking all of this into consideration Wyman concluded that the state will still need another $700 million in borrowing to “correct for structural budget imbalances.”