In a statement that seems a bit out of character, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo responded to a letter from a Republican leader with some serious sarcasm. GOP Senate leader Len Fasano wrote a letter to Lembo questioning the comptroller’s prediction of an $800,000 budget surplus for the current fiscal.
Fasano clearly isn’t buying some of the assumptions Lembo’s relies on in coming to his surplus conclusion. “In the words of Yogi Berra, it’s like déjà vu all over again,” Fasano wrote. “Almost exactly a year ago you predicted we would end fiscal year 2015 with a $300,000 surplus. Instead, after a series of rescissions, we still closed out the year with a deficit. Today, we have yet another prediction based on shaky numbers that a surplus is in our future. When will we learn that the same economic policies employed over and over again are not working?”
Among the numbers Lembo uses and with which Fasano disagrees is $147.7 million in debt service “savings”; the Department of Corrections cutting 140 positions and starting the governor’s Second Chance Society to save $12.5 million; $10 million in overtime savings; and money from Keno.
Fasano concluded offering a “friendly wager” to Lembo. “I am sure you can appreciate our utter confusion as to how you can say that this budget will end with a positive balance barring some miracle. The state will once again end in a deficit. I am so sure of this in fact that I am willing to bet on it, and whoever is right owes the other dinner. I am typically not one to enter into a bet lightly and this will be the first bet I hope I don’t win. However in this case, when you look at the numbers, it will be a tough one to lose.”
Not to be outdone, Lembo responded with a snarky acceptance of the bet. “I’m not one for wagers – not with my money and certainly not with the taxpayers’. That said, you might want to save your bets for Keno. We’ll need it. Let’s just agree to meet up anyway and split the bill after a meaningful policy discussion (rather than gimmicky letters). I’m guessing that we will agree on more things than we disagree – like the need to bolster wages for Connecticut workers, the need to close the digital divide in Connecticut and reinvent our technological infrastructure so that all businesses and households can work in today’s technology-driven world. I look forward to hearing about all of your big ideas as well, so let’s put something on the calendar. But remember…I’m a vegetarian, so save the bull for someone else,” Lembo said.