Incoming state Senate President Martin Looney says there is no need for a special session to deal with a potential budget deficit because the projected shortfall remains less than the amount that would require Gov. Malloy to come up with a deficit mitigation plan. Republican legislative leaders called for the special session late last week and claimed Malloy was low-balling the amount the state is in the red.
Looney said the governor is required to present to the legislature a plan to deal with the deficit if the shortfall exceeds one percent of the entire budget which would be $175 million. “We certainly are not at that point. The rescissions the governor has made and can make–up to three percent of any individual fund and five percent of any individual appropriation–plus the hiring freeze should take care of deficit,” he said.
Income Republican legislative leaders disagree with the numbers.“Based on reports by the Office of Fiscal Analysis, we believe the actual deficit may be much greater than what has been reported by the Office of Policy and Management. Our calculations find the deficit to be surpassing the 1 percent threshold that would trigger deficit mitigation,” Incoming Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and incoming House Minority Leader Themis Klarides wrote in a letter to Malloy.
Sen. Robert Kane, the ranking Republican senator on the Appropriations Committee continued to complain about the timing of the announcement of a budget shortfall. “It went from a $300,000 surplus (two weeks before Election Day) to a $100 million deficit in one month?” he asked the governor’s budget people Friday. Of course, that doesn’t matter now. The real question is how to deal with the red ink.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed concern that the governor used his cutting authority to whack social service agencies. Last week Fasano objected to cuts to the Department of Children and Families. “I am astonished that this administration’s answer to a staggering deficit is to cut funding from one of the most struggling state agencies. DCF provides services that are a core function of government. They are responsible for protecting each and every child in Connecticut, a task that has proved to be both challenging and in need of stronger resources,” he said.
Democrats are concerned with social services cuts as well. CTMirror.org quoted Appropriations Committee co-chairs Sen. Beth Bye and Rep. Toni Walker as voicing concern about “dangerous” cuts.
“We both are trying to address our fears, so we ask that these reductions be reviewed a little bit better,” Walker said, adding that, “We are cutting things that really are dangerous.” Bye said, “No cuts to health services are pleasant cuts, and we are asking questions,”
Sen. Looney tells The Hanging Shad that should it become clear that a deficit of one percent of the total budget is looming, the legislature would certainly take up the plan Gov. Malloy would be required to present.