Disappointing First Step for Budget Reform
The Connecticut General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee this week approved a $19.9 billion budget for 2016-2017 that leaves much work to be done by falling short of addressing what the Office of Fiscal Analysis projects will be a $933 million budget deficit.
Despite OFA’s forecast, the committee addressed just $570 million of the deficit, leaving a gap of approximately $360 million.
The budget bill passed the Appropriations Committee on a party-line vote with all Democrats voting for it and all Republicans voting against it (HB 5044).
Several lawmakers described it as a first step and “a work in progress.”
Although the committee’s plan contained spending cuts, it avoids any sustainable state spending reforms that would keep the budget within taxpayers’ means.
And that’s a problem because the fiscal picture is about to get significantly worse—with $2 billion-dollar-plus gaps projected for the next two fiscal years.
Connecticut must get the state’s fiscal house in order now to have any chance at solving that crisis, staying economically competitive as a state and providing hope for the future.
Only by making sustainable spending reforms–to change the way the state budgets and provide services and programs more efficiently and affordably—will Connecticut be able to solve the crisis and be seen as a good place for economic investment.
As the Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century has shown, reforms with great potential for improvement should be adopted in such significant areas of the budget as corrections, long-term healthcare, information technology, and nonprofit delivery of state services.
“This spending package falls short of the reform Connecticut needs to grow jobs,” said Joe Brennan, CBIA president and CEO.
“The General Assembly has to send a message to job creators that the legislature is serious about fixing our problems, and creating sustainable long-term economic growth.
“While we understand this is a first step, we have to see more aggressive action.”
In a rare move, Governor Malloy responded to the Appropriations Committee budget by saying he will propose a revised budget next week that will fully close the deficit without increasing taxes.
The governor and legislators will begin the process of negotiating in the hopes a budget deal will be reached before the legislature’s session ends on May 4.
The spending plan passed by the Appropriations Committee is unworkable, contains no budgetary reforms, and leaves our state with a massive shortfall.
After two of the biggest tax increases in the state’s history, and with the economy suffering for a lack of business confidence in the state, policymakers must understand that we need to change the way we budget to get our finances under control.
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