First round of budget cut talks bring one agreement [WTNH]

October 27, 2015


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The first round of budget talks with both Republicans and Democrats at the State Capitol ended with an agreement Monday; they must decide what the real red ink number is before they can decide where to cut spending. They’re going to re-boot the actual numbers because there is disagreement on whether it’s $250 million or $430 million.

The first winners in the first round of the budget talks are the Republican leadership. They got two things they wanted; a seat at the table, and a commitment that state budget numbers crunchers will find a real total for the red ink problem. “We don’t have to debate the shape of the table, but they want to have a debate about how much money it is; so let’s take a week and get that done,” said Gov. Malloy following the one hour meeting at his State Capitol Office.

“The staff is now going to have the task of going through why we think it’s 431 and why O.F.A. said 250,” said State Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano. (R-North Haven) O.F.A. is the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, the official State Capitol numbers crunchers. “There’s different groups in this building, we have different ideas of what parts of the budget should be included in the deficit, and that’s what we are going to try and clarify between now and next week so we can all come to an understanding of what the deficit actually is,” added House Minority Leader Themis Karides (R-Derby).

A big part of the deficit that both Republicans and Democrats would like to see included, is the $103 million that the Governor has already cut in Medicaid payments to the state hospitals and other social service programs. There is almost universal criticism from members of both parties on this. If that money is restored, the deficit gets much larger.

Another big factor that all sides must recon with, is that receipts from the ‘State Income Tax’ are over a $100 million less than had been expected. Even though employment is up many of those jobs are not high paying. ‘Income Tax’ growth had been predicted to be 5.2 percent but it’s really only been 3.2 percent.

The Speaker of the House says he’s still pushing for his plan to cut two-and-a-half percent across the board but even by his estimate that’s still only $125 million.