Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and top legislative leaders from the House and Senate will begin their bipartisan effort to fix the state budget Monday afternoon with a meeting in the governor’s Capitol office.
Spokesmen for the Democratic and Republican caucuses confirmed Wednesday they would attend the meeting, tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m.
The governor sent invitations late Tuesday to the legislative leaders. He issued a call this past Monday for bipartisan talks after announcing that weaker-than-anticipated income tax receipts had opened a nearly $120 million hole in the budget.
And while that represents less than three-quarters of 1 percent of this fiscal year’s general fund, it comes barely a month after the administration reported a $103 million shortfall — also due to eroding income tax receipts – and subsequently closed it with emergency cuts aimed largely at hospitals and social services.
Legislators from both parties have criticized those spending cuts, and have said they wish to replace them with alternative reductions. No specifics have been offered to date.
Malloy has ruled out tax hikes, something legislators from both sides of the aisle have been avoiding as well. The new two-year state budget enacted in late June boosts a wide array of taxes by about $1.3 billion over the biennium, while also canceling or postponing previously approved tax cuts worth close to $500 million.
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, also has said he believes the present shortfall in the budget is closer to $300 million. And if legislators want to replace the governor’s mid-September cuts of about $100 million to hospitals and social services with alternative spending reductions, then in Fasano’s view the overall challenge facing the bipartisan negotiations would be roughly $400 million.
Though weaker-than-anticipated state income tax receipts are the largest component of that challenge, Fasano said, Senate Republicans have identified several other issues including:
- Overly aggressive savings targets built into the new budget.
- More than $80 million in debt payments in the new budget are supposed to be made using bond premiums — additional funds the state borrows when it finances capital projects at premium rates. Treasurer Denise L. Nappier, a Democrat, warned Malloy and the legislature of this problem when they adopted the budgeted back in June.
- And anticipated shortfalls in revenues from keno gaming and from federal grants.