Senate Republicans Call on Governor to Veto Unbalanced, Sham Budget – Now Nearly $690 Million Out of Balance

June 25, 2019

Fasano: Democrats Used $180 Million Gimmick, Violated State Law to “Balance” Budget

Today, Connecticut Senate Republicans demanded Gov. Ned Lamont veto the state budget passed by Democrats after yet another budget hole came to light. The yet to be signed state budget violates the state’s consensus revenue law and counts on $180 million in revenue over and above official state estimates which lawmakers are required to use when crafting the state budget.

“This budget is a simply a sham. We are back here again because the deeper we look at the budget, the more we find. These are illegitimate, purposefully misleading numbers that will result in a deficit that dooms Connecticut to failure. This latest gimmick is frightening, both for the precedent it sets and for the damage it will cause,” said Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven).

“First, it violates the state’s consensus revenue law for the first time ever in our state’s history; abandoning policies that Democrats swore would keep all future budgets balanced. It’s hypocrisy from Connecticut Democrats. They set the rules, only to break them.

“Second, it arbitrarily increases revenue with absolutely no sound rational. This budget counts on money that does not exist. It is setting us up for disaster. Every economist points to the fact that a recession is on the horizon in Connecticut. For Democrats to unilaterally increase revenue estimates at this time is not only a violation of state law, but it is also based on absolutely no coherent, sensible or honest reasoning. There’s a difference between political spin and fabrication. To suggest there are newer numbers goes far beyond spin and leans toward gross misrepresentation.”

What is “Consensus Revenue”?

Every year, the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis and the governor’s budget office must agree on how much money the state is projected to receive through all forms of revenue. The law is intended to prevent state leaders from relying on an overly rosy view of future tax receipts when crafting state budgets. However, the state budget approved by Democrats this year ignores these consensus revenue projections.

Governor Lamont initially projected a withholdings growth rate of 2.7% in fiscal year 2020 and 2.2% in fiscal year 2021 (Governor Lamont’s Three Year Budget Report, February 20, 2019). The state’s latest consensus revenue estimates projected a withholdings growth rate of 4%. However, the state budget developed by Democrat legislators and Gov. Lamont ignored consensus revenue and instead arbitrarily increased the withholdings rate to 5.5% with zero explanation or reasoning. This resulted in a fabricated revenue “gain” on paper of $180 million over two years.

Budget Gimmicks Adding Up

Senate Republicans added that this is just one of many budget gimmicks and holes that leave the FY 2020/2021 state budget unbalanced including:

  • $458 million from a contract that doesn’t exist (the state employee unions have not agreed to any deal on any of the labor savings in the budget).
  • $180 million from circumventing consensus revenue, violating state law.
  • $50 million in “new fees” that have yet to be identified by the Office of Policy and Management.

“The truth is Democrats had a $180 million hole in their budget. Instead of being honest, Gov. Lamont and Democrat lawmakers used a massive gimmick to plug the hole on paper. This is the same old strategy that has hurt our state year after year under Democrat leaders.” said Fasano.

“In January, Gov. Lamont told Connecticut residents ‘I want to be clear – no more funny math or budgetary gamesmanship. I come from the world of small business where the numbers have to add up at the end of the month or the lights go out.’

“Well Governor, it’s pretty dark in Connecticut right now. If the governor wants to be true to his word his only option is to veto this budget.”