Republicans Ask (Again) for a Meeting on Budget Deficit; Whack Lembo This Time

Republican legislative leaders are making another effort to sit down with Democrats who control both chambers of the General Assembly to talk about the looming budget deficits. Income Senate and House Minority Leaders, Sen. Len Fasano and Rep. Themis Klarides got the big blow-off from Democratic leaders last month when they sought talks and a special session of the legislature.

In this latest request, the GOP leaders also take a shot at respected state Comptroller Kevin Lembo saying “he, like others, fails to really grasp the true deficit facing this state.” That’s a pretty serious jab at the man who is the state’s fiscal guardian.

Earlier this week, Lembo reported an estimated a $44.8 million deficit for this fiscal year—and that’s with the $54.7 million in rescissions, or cuts, that Gov. Dan Malloy has already made. Last month Malloy instituted a hiring freeze as well.

However, Fasano and Klarides says the deficit is much larger, that it doesn’t include $31.8 million for retiree healthcare costs; $10.5 million for the Department of Corrections and $1.5 million for active state employee healthcare costs. They also noted that Lembo’s deficit number assumes an additional $40 million collection of random, unidentified tax initiatives.

The Republicans are not likely to get Democrats to sit down with them before the regular session which begins January 7. Both incoming Senate President Marty Looney and Majority Bob Duff have told The Hanging Shad that all budget issues will be dealt with during the session and that there is not a need for meetings before that.