State revenues are down $49.3 million over last month, but there’s no reason to hit the panic button just yet. The bad news comes in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
The revenue picture presented by the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis and Office of Policy and Management Thursday will make Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s task of putting together a two-year budget over the next few months even more difficult.
For 2017, the good news is that sales and use taxes are up by about $218.7 million and the healthcare provider tax is up $18 million. The bad news is that federal grants are down $28.6 million and the income tax is down $69.5 million.
The trend of declining personal income continues into the future, too.
Income tax projections were reduced by $144 million in 2018, $212 million in 2019 and $273 million in 2020, respectively, to reflect lower growth assumptions and policies built into the 2017 budget. Sales tax projections were down $44 million, $58 million, and $71 million in those same years.
Chris McClure, a spokesman for the Office of Policy and Management, said the governor’s budget office believes revenues are growing “albeit slowly.”
“This slow growth presents manageable challenges in the current year and more difficulty in developing a balanced budget for the coming biennium,” McClure said. “We look forward to presenting more details on these challenges next week with our annual Fiscal Accountability Report to the legislature.”
The governor’s budget office has always questioned the validity of revenue projections beyond the current year because the state is required every year to balance its budget, no matter what the projections may say.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said the revenue projections, coupled with an increase in the amount of debt the state is obligated to pay, mean the state is facing a $3 billion deficit over the next two years.
Outgoing Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey said the report shows that “tax revenues appear more stable.” He said “without a corresponding expenditure update it is hard to fully assess the impact of the total budget going forward.”
Klarides and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano disagreed with Sharkey’s analysis.
Fasano said the projections released Thursday show an increase in revenue deterioration leaving a deficit of approximately $99 million for the current fiscal year and increasing deficits in future budget years.
Fasano is basing his $99 million budget deficit on the current revenue projections and the expenditure information released in October by legislative analysts.
“Every day that goes by without action only makes the problems worse,” Fasano said. “Now that elections are over, I hope that all lawmakers will finally be willing to begin that conversation with us.”
Revenues are estimates are expected to drop off in the 2018 fiscal year by $169 million and $250 million in the following year. McClure is quick to point out that the governor’s budget office is still confident in the revenue figures it included in its Oct. 20 letter, but was forced to reach a consensus with the legislature’s nonpartisan budget office.
Klarides said that the budget picture could be much worse though because legislative budget analysts put the revenue loss higher than the governor’s budget office.
“The next legislative session is going to be extremely challenging and we will keep the governor and the Democrats at their words that Republicans will finally have a hand at shaping the state’s finances,” Klarides added.