Ayers tapped to head CT’s nonpartisan budget office

A 20-year veteran of the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, Neil A. Ayers of Simsbury, was tapped Monday to head the nonpartisan agency, the Office of Legislative Management announced.

Ayers, who has served as OFA’s principal legislative analyst since 2003, replaces Alan P. Calandro of Burlington, who left last September to accept an executive-level financial post at the University of Connecticut.

Much of Ayers’ tenure at OFA has involved working with the human services portion of the state budget.

Ayers becomes director of the nonpartisan office at a crucial time for state finances. Nonpartisan analysts are projecting major deficits for each of the next two fiscal years, topping $500 million and $1.7 billion, respectively.

OFA also continues to provide an increasing amount of state fiscal information online for public consumption.

The office’s website features a wide array of reports and analyses traditionally filed in committee offices covering bonding, cash flow, tax receipts, agency monthly personnel reports, expenditure and revenue projections, and other economic data.

A “transparency” search engine enables visitors to track line-item expenditures from the budget, or research salaries and other basic fiscal information tied to state employees.

Archives include annual budgets and fiscal notes for bills from each legislative session dating back to the 1970s. State agency staffing levels, which haven’t been available on Executive Branch websites since the late 2000s, still can be found on the OFA page.

Before his work at OFA, Ayers served as a legislative fellow both in the Office of Legislative Research and with the support staff for the Program Review and Investigations Committee.

Ayers holds both a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from UConn. He will earn $145,633 per year as OFA director.

The Office of Legislative Management oversees all legislative support services for the General Assembly. It answers to the Committee on Legislative Management, a bipartisan panel composed of top lawmakers.

Calandro, who now is senior adviser and special projects coordinator under UConn’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, Scott A. Jordan, had been OFA director since 2009.

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About Keith M. Phaneuf

Keith, with Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, won first prize in investigative reporting from the Education Writers Association in 2012 for a series of stories on the Board of Regents for Higher Education. The former State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, Keith has spent most of 24 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. A former contributing writer to The New York Times, Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut. E-mail him at kphaneuf@ctmirror.org.