Rell to lawmakers: let me cut more in spending

Gov. M. Jodi Rell is again calling on the legislature to expand her budget-cutting authority as the state’s financial mess continues.

“I am reiterating my call to give not just this governor but all who will follow me expanded authority to make budget rescissions,” Rell said.

In recent months, Rell cut $67.2 million from the state’s $18.6 billion budget in an effort to close the state’s $500 million budget gap. The budget must be balanced as required by law.

Rell has limited budget-cutting authority and is now only allowed to cut spending by up to 5 percent. She is calling on the legislature to expand this authority for “extreme circumstances” when revenue comes much less than expected – cutting up to 10 percent if the revenue gap is 3 percent, and up to 15 percent for a 5 percent gap.

The governor is restricted from cutting funding for significant portions of the budget – including pensions, health benefits and aid to municipalities. This year, towns received $2.8 billion in aid, or 15 percent of the budget–and the state is contributing $1.2 billion to employee and teacher pension funds.