WNPR

Few Good Options Remain For Connecticut Budget Deficit Mitigation

Dec 27, 2017

When it comes to negotiating a way to fix the projected state budget deficit of $208 million, Governor Dannel Malloy had to go first. That statutory obligation was activated because the shortfall reached more than one percent of the general fund.

“You passed a budget that was out of balance,” Malloy said. “And the only way you got anywhere near balance was you had a provision that said ‘and the governor has to cut $200 million more.’ So then, I cut $200 million and all that they do is complain about the things that I cut. You can’t make this stuff up.”

Earlier this month, Malloy revealed his proposal to increase revenue or cut spending. Those options included increasing the sales tax to 6.9 percent, reducing around $3.5 million in funding to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction services, closing the Old State House, and allowing grocery stores to sell wine.

House Democrat Matt Ritter said the reaction from lawmakers might not have been positive, but there really aren’t too many good options.

“No one’s in a great position because a lot of the savings that you can realize in July that bring a lot more money or savings, so to speak, to the state budget than you can realize or can be implemented in February -- that’s what makes this really hard,” Ritter said. “And a lot of money has already been spent.”

Gian-Carl Casa, the president and CEO of the Connecticut Nonprofit Alliance, recommended what he called a “fundamental shift.” Instead of going after nonprofit programs, legislators should go after the other 53 percent of the budget—fixed costs.

“Nonprofits are providing essential and necessary services and they should not be on the table,” said Casa, who used to work for the governor. “Nonprofits do not have a lot of choices.”

Casa said that what’s happening on the federal level—diminishing interest in itemizing charitable deductions for a majority of Americans due to the recent tax overhaul—limits what nonprofits can do even further.