It probably won’t win many campaign-related headlines this fall, but one issue looms over the outcome of state elections on Nov. 6.

The state budget, that is.

Last week’s Finance Committee hearing was a good reminder that Connecticut’s fiscal situation will be an unavoidable topic for whoever wins state Senate and House races in November.

In fact, the first order of business for the 2013 General Assembly will be to adopt a new two-year state budget—no easy task, says the state comptroller.

Confirming a deficit for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the comptroller is urging a tight rein on state spending to avoid another gap.

During the Finance Committee hearing, policymakers debated another budget dilemma: Whether borrowing tax dollars reserved for capital projects to make operating-budget ends meet is a good idea.  Apparently it’s happened four times already this calendar year.

It’s an OK and necessary idea, say some state officials.

It’s wrong and is a red flag for bigger problems, say others.

But everyone seems to agree that we have a problem that must be addressed. Ben Barnes, Governor Malloy’s budget chief, said that the state's fiscal challenges are "not of a scale that can be solved in a year," according to the CT Mirror. He added it will take "a consistent, disciplined effort over time" to solve it.

It also takes tough decisions. Says CBIA CEO John Rathgeber is this month’s CBIA News cover story.

“A lot of attention will be on lawmakers and whether they recognize that the state has finite resources and understand the need to trim the bureaucracy and focus on those services that most directly affect people’s lives. Unless the economy turns around dramatically, including growth in the financial markets, we’re likely to be facing more serious short-term deficits as well as long-term unfunded liabilities that must be addressed.”

Our slow economic recovery and persistent state budget challenges are why Connecticut businesses are exhibiting a “gloomy optimism.”

<p> Shoring up the state budget in a fiscally responsible way that avoids the tax increases that hurt our economy can start to turn things around.

This fall, pay close attention to your local candidates and see where they stand on this larger-than-life issue.

Visit our Election 2012 website to learn more about your candidates and their priorities.