Friday, February 27, 2009

Connecticut Needs Real Deficit Mitigation!

The recent session of the Connecticut General Assembly was an interesting experience for this freshman senator! Our agenda read "An Act Concerning Deficit Mitigation Measures for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2009" but it probably should have read "Let's claim we fixed our billion dollar budget deficit but really didn't."

We have a big budget deficit in Connecticut. Various government officials disagree on the amount so for means of discussion here I'll use the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis' deficit estimate in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 is one-billion-three-hundred-fifty-three-million dollars. $1,353,000,000

Senate Republicans introduced a deficit mitigation proposal on February 11th. Governor Rell introduced her third deficit mitigation proposal on February 19th. We waited until hours before our February 25th session for details of the Democratic leader's proposal. That's part of the game here at the Capitol - keep as many people in the dark until it's time to release the info. Forget open discussion and the opportunity to analyze a proposal.

The Democrat's plan claimed to erase $1.217 billion, or 90 percent, of the projected $1.353 billion budget deficit. The major problem with the Democrat's claim is that 23% of their deficit mitigation plan is not real.

Here is the real story of cost savings or new taxes in the plan that are a part of their shell game:

$220,000,000 - "off-budget" account sweeps to be identified at a later date

$22,000,000 - state employee retirement incentive plan with no implementation

$3,800,000 - expanded bottle bill that can never be implemented by April 1st

$28,000,000 - eliminate local bridge fund with projects are under construction

$5,000,000 - unidentified contract cancellations

$278,800,000 - Total of Democrats' claimed savings that are not real

So what happens if the Democrats' claimed savings don't materialize? Well, they're running out the clock on this fiscal year and if we hit June 30th without REAL ANSWERS to our budget deficit the "Rainy Day Fund" is automatically tapped to cover the shell game.

The people of Connecticut don't run their businesses or family budgets this way and they expect their legislators to be responsible in their actions on the state budget.

March 15th is the business tax deadline in Connecticut and April 15th is the individual deadline. Most estimates anticipate further erosion of anticipated state tax revenue. That means Governor Rell and the General Assembly must agree on Deficit Mitigation Plan #4 before June 30th.

Governor Rell and my Senate Republican colleagues have consistently offered responsible deficit mitigation proposals and each time the majority Democrats have fallen short in addressing our fiscal crisis. How can we possibly get through a $6 billion to $9 billion deficit in the upcoming budget deliberations if we can't accomplish realistic savings in the current year?

I hope Deficit Mitigation Plan #4 will correct the Democrats' $278,800,000 shell game and preserve our Rainy Day Fund for the tsunami on the horizon.