A provision passed during Tuesday’s special session pushed the due date for the Oct. 15 consensus revenue estimates back to Nov. 10, a change Republicans allege was made to delay what they anticipate will be a lousy fiscal forecast following the 2012 election.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said he thinks Democrats wanted to push the date back because the revenue estimates will be terrible.
“As they were in January and as they were in April. I think they will validate everything we’ve been saying. That does not bode well for an election,” he said Tuesday night.
Cafero said there’s no logical reason for the delay, like a reporting period that would give the Office of Fiscal Analysis more data to work with.
“It is purely to move it beyond the election,” he said.
A third consecutive decline in revenue would be evidence to voters about to head to the polls that Democrats have failed to put the state on sound fiscal footing, Cafero said.
While the provision stems from a bill proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, Budget Secretary Ben Barnes said the administration did not ask for the estimates to be delayed until mid-November. Rather they simply want to change the exact date the estimates come out in case it falls on a weekend or holiday.
“I don’t care. November is fine,” he said. “It wasn’t our request.”
He suggested the November date makes sense because it’s around the same time as the fiscal accountability report put out by the Office of Fiscal Analysis.
According to minutes from an April Finance Committee meeting, the committee’s co-chairwoman, Sen. Eileen Daily, said the language was added at the request of OFA.
On Tuesday, Finance Committee Co-Chairwoman Rep. Patricia Widlitz said the move had nothing to do with the election. Widlitz said the consensus revenue estimates were pushed back so the state would have a more up-to-date financial picture at its annual fiscal accountability meeting, which takes place between Nov. 15 and Nov. 30.
“The intent was to give us a more accurate picture with more accurate information than we had on October 15,” Widlitz said.
The consensus revenues estimates were created by the Democratic majority in the legislature in 2009 after former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration failed to propose a budget to close an estimated $8.7 billion two-year budget deficit. Rell’s budget closed a $6 billion deficit instead. The legislation was proposed to force the governor’s budget office to reconcile their revenue figures with the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis.