ctnewsjunkie file photo
OPM Secretary Ben Barnes (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

Connecticut’s budget deficit has improved, according to Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes, because spending was reduced.

In his monthly letter to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Barnes reduced the deficit by $26.1 million. That still leaves the state with an estimated $41.6 million deficit for 2017.

At the same time, spending is still about $18.4 million above the budget plan. That means Barnes will still have to find an additional $39.6 million to cut before the end of the year.

Legal claims against the state have crept up by $9 million over what was budgeted, according to Barnes, and he also said several state agencies are still over budget, including the Office of Chief Medical Examiner and Office of Early Childhood.

Additionally, the Department of Correction is experiencing a $2.2 million shortfall in its estimated Workers’ Compensation account, debt service is $12 million short of what was estimated, and the Public Defender Services Commission is$4.3 million over budget.

Revenues have remained unchanged from the November estimates.

“As always, the month of April, when final payments are received under the income tax, is the most significant collection period for the state,” Barnes wrote. “The next consensus revenue forecast will be released on or before January 17, and will be incorporated into next month’s budget estimate.”

Lembo will certify the deficit on Jan. 1.

Next year’s deficit, which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and then lawmakers will have to contend with starting in January has been estimated as $1.3 billion. The governor will release his budget in February.