HARTFORD, CT — It’s been five days since Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Ben Barnes asked legislative leaders to balance this year’s budget by passing a deficit mitigation plan and giving the Office of Early Childhood $6.8 million to pay providers.
It’s been two weeks since Gov. Dannel P. Malloy handed legislators a deficit mitigation plan to help erase the $389 million deficit for this fiscal year.
“Legislative actions to mitigate the deficit must take place this spring,” Barnes warned in his letter. “We have a mutual obligation to balance the budget each fiscal year.”
He said they would be happy to discuss alternatives.
But it might not be necessary.
As House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz was addressing reporters Wednesday afternoon, he was informed by his staff that the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis had found enough savings to modify Malloy’s deficit mitigation plan.
Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle were concerned about the elimination of a $19 million payments to cities and towns and a $2 million reduction in funds for hospitals.
Aresimowicz said budget projections had changed enough to make sure the towns and the hospitals receive their funding before the end of the fiscal year. By making those changes, Aresimowicz felt the mitigation plan would easily clear the House.
Barnes also stressed in his letter that he needs $6.8 million for a deficiency in the Birth-to-Three program managed by the Office of Early Childhood. The deficiency was a result of “increased caseload and increased utilization of more costly services.”
If the legislature fails to cure the deficiency 33 providers serving 5,163 children won’t get paid, Barnes said.
“The legislature needs to take action and enact a deficiency bill soon to ensure the timely payment to providers, and ensure continued services to children and families,” Barnes wrote.
Legislative staff believe there’s enough money to make certain the deficiency is cured.