State Comptroller Kevin Lembo
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo. (file photo) Arielle Levin Becker / File Photo

State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo agreed with Malloy’s estimate of the state budget deficit in his latest monthly forecast on Monday, but he warned things could easily change.

The comptroller officially certified the $118.4 million shortfall estimate that Malloy issued on Oct. 19.

Lembo warned an array of factors could cause a change, including new revenue estimates due just eight days from now.

“I believe that this projection falls within an acceptable range of estimation variance given current economic factors,” Lembo — who like Malloy is a Democrat — wrote in his letter Monday to the governor.

According to state law, the governor is required to prepare a deficit-mitigation plan whenever the comptroller certifies a shortfall in excess of 1 percent of the general fund. In the context of the current fiscal year, that means a deficit exceeding $182 million.

But regardless of that requirement, Malloy voluntarily reached out to legislators from both parties on Oct. 19 to begin bipartisan talks on the budget. Those negotiations began last week.

The governor’s $118.4 million deficit projection is based largely on weaker-than-anticipated state income tax receipts.

The top Republicans in the Senate and House, Len Fasano of North Haven and Themis Klarides of Derby, say the shortfall is closer to $330 million.

Besides issues with income tax receipts, the budget has other problems, GOP leaders say. These include very aggressive savings targets that state agencies probably can’t achieve, as well as cost overruns in debt service.

The legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis has come in between both sides, projecting a $246 million deficit that reflects both revenue and spending problems.

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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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