GOP leaders question state deficit estimate [Rep-Am]

January 23, 2015


HARTFORD — The Republican leaders in the legislature say the state’s actual budget shortfall is approximately $80 million higher than the Malloy’s administration’s latest estimate of $120.9 million.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and Senate Minority Leonard A. Fasano, R-North Haven, appealed again to Democratic leaders and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today to work out a bipartisan plan to close the budget gap.

The governor’s budget office reported Tuesday that the estimated shortfall in this year’s $19 billion budget had increased by $89.3 million from its December estimate of $31.6 million.

The increase resulted from a $39.3 million decline in anticipated revenue and a $50 million shortfall in the $5.6 billion Medicaid budget.

In a letter to Democratic leaders, Klarides and Fasano argued the actual shortfall is closer to $200 million.

They say the latest estimate from the Office of Policy and Management fails to recognize a $35 million hole in retiree health care and a $7 million shortfall in the Department of Correction.

The GOP leaders also say OPM counts on $45 million in questionable revenue receipts.

“We can no longer sit around waiting for the numbers to sink further. Based on upon our prior working relationship, nothing should stop us from taking the initiative now to work together,” Fasano and Klarides wrote.

The current 2015 fiscal year ends June 30.

OPM Secretary Benjamin Barnes reported Tuesday that Malloy will be ordering additional budget cuts in short order. He also warned additional reductions may be necessary later.

In December, Malloy ordered $47.8 million in reductions to executive branch agencies to help close a $99.5 million gap that OPM reported in November.

He also requested the legislature cut $865,000 from its budget and the judicial branch slash $6 million in spending. The governor cannot order cuts to either branch.

The administration had planned to close the remaining budget gap through a hiring freeze, restrictions on contracting and other cost-cutting measures