The legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated Monday that the 2015 budget deficit is about $3.7 million shy of requiring Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to issue a deficit mitigation plan to the General Assembly.
Nonpartisan analysts reported Monday that the 2015 budget is running a $202.5 million deficit, but the $31.6 million in rescissions Malloy announced Friday lower it to $170.9 million, which is just short of the $174.6 million deficit mitigation trigger.
If the deficit reaches 1 percent of the General Fund then the governor has to submit a deficit mitigation plan to the legislature.
Republican lawmakers, who have expressed concern about the situation, are frustrated that the Malloy administration seems to be cutting just enough to stay under the deficit mitigation limit.
“The trend is not going back and forth it’s headed in one direction,” Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said Monday.
He said the governor and Democratic legislative leaders are getting “caught up in words.” He said even without the rescissions the administration still isn’t counting the $45 million it needs to collect from delinquent taxpayers and it “fails to recognize a $35 million hole in retiree healthcare needs.”
Fasano said if it wasn’t for the two rounds of rescissions the budget would be well over the 1 percent threshold. He said the law wasn’t written in order to avoid a deficit mitigation plan by nibbling away at the deficit on a monthly basis.
He said Republican lawmakers stand willing to help the governor solve the budget problem.
“There’s nothing magical about it,” Fasano said.
House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said she thought the state would at least make it to February before getting more bad news.
“The non-partisan budget office figures from OFA clearly support our position that Republicans made, once again, last week in front of the press and the governor that we are still headed in the wrong direction,” Klarides said in a statement.
Democratic legislative leaders remain content to let Malloy handle the situation.
“If Comptroller [Kevin] Lembo, in a cumulative monthly statement required by the Connecticut General Statutes, indicate a deficit greater than one percent of the total of General Fund appropriations, we remain confident Governor Malloy will provide a deficit mitigation plan to the aforementioned committees,” Senate President Martin Looney and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey wrote in a letter to Fasano and Klarides. “Until any such eventuality, Governor Malloy is appropriately exercising his statutorily granted authority by previously ordering emergency cuts.”
Malloy’s budget office agreed.
“As Secretary Barnes indicated Friday, we will continue to watch state spending and revenue,” Gian-Carl Casa, deputy undersecretary at the Office Policy and Management, said Monday. “If necessary, the Governor will take additional steps, or propose additional steps to the legislature, to keep this year’s budget in balance.”