Comptroller Calls State Deficit a Continuing Problem, Fasano Agrees [NBC]

March 5, 2015

Democratic Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who has the elected responsibility of making sure state money is properly allocated and spent, is urging lawmakers to take the deficit seriously.

He said that even though he and Gov. Dannel Malloy come from the same party, they’re allowed to disagree.

“Connecticut has a system set up where we do have independently elected constitutional officers and independent branches of government that all have an opportunity and an obligation to call the balls and strikes as they see them and then report to the state on where we are at any given time,” Lembo said.

Lembo’s office projected the February deficit to be $89 million and then over $100 million in March.

State Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, a Republican who represents East Haven, has criticized the comptroller in the past.

He has alleged that Lembo “shielded” the governor to allow the Democrat to win reelection, but Fasano came out in support of Lembo’s most recent budget projections.

“It’s time we all sit down,” Fasano said. “If the governor doesn’t want to do it, then we’ll work with the comptroller here in the legislature.”

Fasano added that he thinks the budget issues are entirely the governor’s fault.

“Look, this governor is checked out of this state. We have a deficit he doesn’t want to face,” he said. “We have a budget that’s over the spending cap and by his own constitutional officer, the treasurer says, it probably doesn’t even balance.”

Lembo said it’s possible that the state can make up the projected shortfall with higher than expected tax collections, but warned that Connecticut would require a 20 percent increase year over year, which Lembo said hasn’t been seen in about a decade.

“I am absolutely happy to be wrong if the revenue flows in the door and we don’t need to continue down this downward slide,” Lembo said.