Someone Hire an Accountant, Please

It’s mid-March, and no movement has been made on the budget since the governor’s budget address a month ago. What’s the delay?

A few weeks ago, Democrats found about $220 million in the couch cushions, and wanted to spend that money on the deficit. Now the Rell Administration can only find about $188 million of it. Great. So there’s that problem.

Of bigger importance, however is that no one can agree on how big the deficit actually is. The administration still seems to be clinging to the idea that the deficit is $6 billion. However, Republicans and Democrats in the legislature are arriving at different figures of either $8 billion or $8.7 billion. This is causing gridlock, because without a single number to work with, the two sides apparently can’t even get into the same room with one another.

The problem is that the governor’s tax-raise-free plan doesn’t count on a bigger deficit, and if there is a bigger gap she probably will have to sign off on a tax increase. She doesn’t want to do that. The legislature isn’t willing to play along because a) they don’t want to implement any of the governor’s budget if they can help it and b) they believe she isn’t in touch with reality.

The problem seems to be that no one has any clue how big the deficit is. Granted, it’s hard to predict how much money we’re going to be losing over the next two years. That’s why we have offices to do these kinds of projections.

In fact, we have two offices with competing projections: the Office of Fiscal Analysis ($8.7 billion or thereabouts) and the Office of Policy and Management ($8 billion, or $6 billion, depending on what day it is).

Maybe in order to cut down on government waste, we should eliminate one of those two departments. Or at least we could have only one of them deal with budget projections!

Suddenly, Rep. Fleischmann’s ten-year budget cycle is starting to look less crazy.

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10 responses to “Someone Hire an Accountant, Please

  1. Fleischmann’s proposal would be a HUGE mistake to adopt.

    You’ve seen the problems with soc sec & medicare & the teachers’ pension and state ee postretirement bene’s…

    Fleischmann’s plan, though well-intended, will turn the entire budget into the same mess of other postretirement bene’s.

    Pols will spend the money today and say they’ll collect the taxes tomorrow, coincidentally after the next election.

  2. A few days after April 15th the budget picture will come into sharp focus and the posturing and politics will truly begin.

  3. A few days after April 15th the budget picture will come into sharp focus and the posturing and politics will truly begin.

    So much for getting it done early!

  4. At least those two offices are close! …compared to the other groups.

    Did anyone REALLY think that the Democrats or Governor would REALLY do ANYTHING this early? Of course not. Even before the huge deficits were forcasting.

    Who needs to figure out the EXACT number when so far, next to NOTHING has been cut so far? We know its a huge number already. Yet, the Governor made a “no new taxes” pledge (except for taxes on gasoline, cutting lottery compensation, keeping bottle reciepts, possibly a new plastic bag tax, doubling DMV “fees”, and other revenue… those don’t count!).

    So despite her doublespeak so far and sad sportsmanship by both the Democrats and the Governor so far, the Governor has declared her embronic stem cell funding program (mainly to UConn and other Universities) as untouchable. I heard this briefly on WTNH Sunday morning, but cannot find it on their website. I’ll attempt to find another citation.

  5. Allowing deficit spending would be absolutely insane. The same ‘leaders’ who created the spending/taxing structure that positioned the state for the current debacle would never be able to restrain themselves. As it is with the federal government, our children and grandchildren will be paying for this ‘stimulus’ plan as far as the eye can see. We are willing to consume these dollars now, as long as our kids have to pay the freight. Great legacy, all the way around.

    Let’s not add the state to their burden.

  6. Please explain the difference beween the two fiscal analysis offices – who controls and how big a political bias exists.

  7. If I remember correctly the recently passed “mitigation” plan assumes $50 million in Employee concessions for this F/Y which ends June 30. We are now at the middle of March with zero movement in this area, and each day makes it more unlikely that these savings can be acheived as time is running out to agree and implement anything.

  8. There are actually three budget estimates. Office of Fiscal Analysis is a nominally non-partisan body, reporting to the General Assembly. Generally there numbers are pretty good. Office of Policy and Management (OPM) is an executive branch agency, reporting to the Governor. There numbers were pretty good through the fall, when no one wanted to hear anything, and they basically have stopped publically reporting a number since the Governor went forward with the $6B number. In addition, Comptroller Nancy Wyman issues her own numbers, based on her view of revenue collection. The legislature and the Governor are not required to use any particular set of numbers.

  9. wtfdnucsailor

    I had an interesting discussion about the inaction at the Capital with one of the local legislators at the “Leadership Forum” last Saturday before the event started. He recognized that those outside the capital don’t appreciate the work that is going on in the background despite the seeming inaction to the casual or not so casual observer. I just hope that he is correct. I just think that the legislators are wrapped up in the ‘process’ and don’t have the plan to drive the process. I detected that same type of mentality in former Speaker Amann’s comments at the forum which is why I opined that he is still thinking like a legislator, not a chief executive. I get the feeling that the DEM leadership ‘is herding cats’ and ‘allowing all voices to be heard’ before coming out with a program that probably will satisfy no one and might be too little too late.

  10. WTFD:
    I’ve heard the underappreciated comment so many times over the years from so many legislators that I have to believe it’s part of the legislators’ handbook. It generally can be interpreted to mean the particular legislator doesn’t have a clue what’s going to happen.
    A core problem with the current budget and future budgets is the high cost of personnel. The Wall Street Journal this morning has a good article on the impact that the market drop has had on state pension programs (as an aside Wisconsin adjusts pensions up or down depending on the performance of their pension funds). Connecticut’s pension and retiement progams are in deep poo poo, and the future costs are going to escalate exponentially without changes.
    The problem with the Democratic “Leadership” is that they don’t know where to lead until the state labor unions tell them where they can go.

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