Gov. Dannel P. Malloy talking about Aetna's future. mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org file photo
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org file photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had a warning Thursday for legislators considering enacting a temporary budget to guide state finances after July 1 in lieu of the real thing.

Do it right or don’t do it at all.

The governor “will not consider any budget — short or long term, that adds to our fiscal challenges in the coming biennium,” Malloy spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly said.

With Connecticut just nine days away from entering the fiscal year without an approved spending plan — for the first time since 2009 and just the second time in 15 years — gridlocked legislators are seeking to buy more time to craft the next two-year budget.

And with the current budget set to end on June 30, they are considering adopting a plan to guide the state for two to four weeks after that.

What should that mini-budget look like? One common suggestion has been to simply extend the outgoing budget for one extra month.

But there’s a problem.

Analysts say that approach, over 12 months, would run up a whopping $2.3 billion deficit — an amount greater than half-a-year’s sales tax receipts.

Even worse, the administration says, wasting a month or two bringing this projected deficit into reality also would mean Connecticut would have just 10 or 11 months left in the rest of the new fiscal year to cut spending and raise revenue to balance finances — effectively intensifying the pain.

If legislators want to do a mini-budget, Donnelly said, it has to be based on the same painful choices needed to craft a regular plan to balance state finances over the long haul.

“If members of the General Assembly choose to exacerbate our difficulties and kick the can down the road, they should be prepared to justify that fiscally irresponsible choice to their constituents,” Donnelly said.

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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