Because of tax payment extensions associated with Tropical Storm Irene, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo was unable to provide any actual receipt data in his monthly letter to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
However, Lembo didn’t contest the information put together by the Office of Policy and Management in its Sept. 20 letter to his office.
Lembo concurred Monday that the state will end fiscal year 2012 with a $78.9 million balance, a majority of which will be used to offset the cost of transitioning to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the deficit that will create. So with $75 million going toward GAAP, the remaining $3.9 million will be reserved to pay off the 2009 Economic Recovery Notes.
Malloy;s Budget Director Ben Barnes and Lembo have both been careful about calling additional money in the budget a surplus, since any surplus has already been designated to pay off the state’s debt or help cover the deficit created by transitioning to GAAP.
“General Fund spending is expected to exceed the budget plan by $17 million,“ Lembo wrote in his Oct. 3 letter to Malloy. “A $15 million deficiency is projected in the Department of Social Services’ Medicaid account. This deficiency is attributed to continued growth in the low income adult population. In addition, the Public Defenders Services is experiencing a $2 million deficiency in payments to contracted attorneys. The deficiencies are largely offset by a $15 million reduction in projected debt service payments based on lower borrowing costs.”
“The opportunity for deficiency appropriations is limited by the spending cap,” Lembo concluded.
The budget has little room for error because it was just $1 million above the constitutional spending cap when it was passed by the General Assembly in May.
“I am concerned that current economic indicators and stock market activity may require adjustments to the current revenue projections; however, sufficient actual receipt data is unavailable for analysis at this time,” Lembo wrote Monday.
The state added 4,400 payroll jobs for the 12-month period that ended in August, which is below the level of growth expected during a normal recovery. Additionally, housing permits were down 6 percent from a year ago. The Connecticut Manufacturing Production Index has remained relatively flat.
On the other hand, Connecticut’s export sector experienced double-digit growth since the end of the recession and personal income was up 4 percent in the first two quarters of 2011.
“We are on the path to a surplus – but so much remains unclear at this point,” Lembo said. “Our debt costs have decreased, our low-income assistance has increased due to the economy and revenue projections are uncertain this month. Connecticut’s economy continues to show slow and erratic growth, further clouding the state’s financial outlook and our path to full recovery.”