Good news: It appears Connecticut's state budget for the current fiscal year has grown a small surplus.

At just over the half-way point in the 2017 fiscal year, the Malloy administration recently projected a $23.3 million balance in the state’s bank account.

State Government Spending
State spending has far outpaced the growth of Connecticut’s population, inflation, and household income.

Given that this year’s budget had to undergo as many as four adjustments—better known as “deficit mitigation plans”—this is no small feat.

But neither is it a great comfort, as we await the February 8 unveiling of the Governor’s proposed two-year plan for fiscal 2018 and 2019.

Figuratively speaking, a $23 million budget surplus can evaporate in a blink of an eye. Literally speaking, not much longer…

Guess how many days of government function we get with a $23 million budget surplus?

A week?

Three days?

One day?

It turns out that the state spends at a pace that consumes $23 million in just under 10 hours.

Connecticut spends about $57.5 million in a single day—or about $40,000 per minute.
That’s right, Connecticut spends about $57.5 million in a single day—or about $40,000 per minute.

With projected billion-dollar-plus gaps between estimated revenues and expenditures looming ahead, this comes as a timely caution to the General Assembly—reinforcing the fact that Connecticut needs a sustainable budget, based on a predictable design that delivers core government services in a strategic, judicious fashion.

More reasonable and forward planning, driven by structural budget reforms, might get us a budget that has more than 10 hours of breathing room at the end of the year.

Pete Gioia is an economist with CBIA. Follow him on Twitter @CTEconomist.