Get Ready for a Nasty Budget Season

Gov. Dannel Malloy presents his new, two-year budget today at a joint session of the General Assembly. Depending on who you ask, it’s either a balance plan that avoids any new taxes or it’s a gimmick-filled mess that is a $1 billion over the constitutional spending cap. Combine that with the fact that the governor faces reelection and the two Republican leaders in the legislature want his job and you have the makings of a very acrimonious budget negotiation.

The plan increases spending by about 10 percent including new funding for education. As The Shad has asked before, how do you pay for it? It seems the budget includes some moves that Malloy railed against when he campaign for the top office back in 2010.

It extends certain taxes that were supposed to be “sunsetted” including the surcharge on corporate profits and the tax on electricity generators. Malloy does not see this as a tax increase. The proposal also delays payments on some debt and drops the earned income tax credit for the working poor from 30 percent to 25 percent.

The governor’s plan also includes deep cuts to hospitals and changes eligibility for Medicaid.

As expected, Republicans in the legislature are howling, and with some good reason. The plan, as it stands, is $1 billion over the constitutionally mandated spending cap. The governor can get around that by charging the definition of the cap. It’s certainly been done before.

Adding to what will be some budget drama is that both Senate Republican Leader John McKinney and House GOP chief Larry Cafero are interested in Malloy’s job.