Gov. Dannel P. Malloy delivers his budget address to the opening session of the 2016 legislature. Jacqueline Rabe Thomas /
Gov. Dannel Malloy delivers his call for budget cuts to the General Assembly last week.
Gov. Dannel Malloy delivers his call for budget cuts to the General Assembly on Feb 3. Jacqueline Rabe Thomas /

Welcome to The Connecticut Mirror’s budget tracker. This tool is designed to help show how the state budget process unfolds for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Last updated May 17, 2016.

Jump straight to the budget tracker or read on to understand how the process works…

The budget-writing process

Connecticut budgets two years at a time. That means that the budget legislators passed in 2015 provides a spending plan for both this and next fiscal year. But legislators almost always make adjustments to the second year of the two-year budget before it takes effect, which is what they’ll be doing during this year’s session.

Big adjustments are likely to be necessary this time around because nonpartisan analysts have projected that, as currently written, the budget scheduled to take effect July 1 includes a deficit of more than $900 million. That means that legislators will have to find savings (read: spending cuts) or additional sources of income (read: taxes and fees) to balance it.

So how does it come together?

The budget process generally involves three major steps (in some years, four), and this year’s has involved more iterations than usual.

First, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed a budget or, in this case, adjustments to the second year of the two-year budget. He did that Feb. 3.

Next, legislators held hearings about the budget and came up with their own proposals. The Democrat-led Appropriations Committee issued a spending plan April 6, but faced immediate criticism because the plan was approximately $340 million short of closing the projected deficit, which had grown since Malloy proposed his budget.

Democrats presented a proposal to address that gap on April 28.

Meanwhile, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee issued a plan for generating the money to pay for that spending.

Republican legislators proposed their own budget on April 25.

And, in an unusual move, Malloy released his own revised proposal April 12. Then, following the Democrats’ revised proposal and a standoff in negotiations, Malloy issued a third budget plan on May 2.

Malloy and Democrats in the legislature reached a tentative budget deal on May 3, with just over 24 hours to go before the session’s deadline. The Senate passed the final budget during a May 12 special session, and the House passed it the following day.

How to use this tool

This tool will show the major spending cuts, spending increases and revenue changes (that is, taxes and fees) in each proposal.

Items that were changed in Malloy’s second or third proposals or the Democrats’ second proposal are marked with an asterisk next to the number that indicates the size of the cut or add.

On the spending side, cuts are listed in red. Items in green indicate that the proposal would not change the level of funding an item would get. Items in yellow mean that there was a proposed cut but it was less than in one or more other proposals, while items in blue indicate a proposed cut that was deeper than in one or more other proposals.

There’s a separate tab, “adds,” for areas in which spending would increase under one or more proposals. Green represents a proposed spending increase. Yellow indicates a spending increase that’s lower than that included in one or more other proposals, while red indicates no change and blue indicates that a given proposal calls for cutting funding for that item.

On the taxes and fees side, items in red indicate a tax or fee increase. Items in green indicate that a proposal does not call for making any changes. Items in yellow indicate a tax or fee increase but at a lower level than in another proposal, while items in blue indicate a proposed tax or fee hike that was larger than in other proposals. Purple indicates a proposed cut in a tax or fee.

You can use the search field to find items that cover a particular topic, program or town, and click on specific lines to read more.

Circles that are white are items we’re still working to confirm.

A technical note: To the extent possible, we compared the proposed spending for the 2016-2017 fiscal year to the amount included in the two-year budget that passed in June 2015. In some cases – those in which the cut hit an item that wasn’t a full line item in the budget – we instead used the cut figure included in the proposal.

Jake was Data Editor at CT Mirror. He is a former managing editor of The Ridgefield Press, a Hersam Acorn newspaper. He worked for the community newspaper chain as a reporter and editor for five years before joining the Mirror staff. He studied professional writing at Western Connecticut State University and is a graduate student in software engineering at Harvard Extension School.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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.

Leave a comment