Saturday Deficit Blues

From the CT Mirror. Nice job by reporter Keith Phaneuf. For entire article go to

The state Senate adopted a deficit reduction plan shortly before 5:20 a.m. today that aims to close a $518 million gap in the current year budget, despite the promise of a veto by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

Although Democratic leaders of the Senate said they would not be deterred by Rell’s threat, it was enough to prompt the House Democrats to cancel today’s scheduled vote on the plan, since the Senate failed to pass it by a veto-proof margin.

That would have required that all 24 Democrats in the Senate vote for the bill. But following a 4 1/2-hour debate the measure passed 21-15 as three Democratic senators, Gayle Slossberg of Milford, Joan Hartley of Waterbury and Jonathan Harris of West Hartford, joined with 12 Republicans in opposing it.

Among other cuts, the plan would eliminate 21 deputy commissioners in Rell’s administration, saving $3.1 million annually. It also would cancel seniority bonuses and require another furlough day for non-union workers, cut back health care, social service and education programs and make other reductions worth nearly $115 million across this fiscal year and next combined.

Another $63 million assigned to various special funds and accounts would be reassigned to bolster the General Fund. Among those transfers are $10.4 million to be taken from the Special Transportation Fund, $6 million cut to the public financing program for state elections, and $3.5 million from the popular biomedical trust fund. It does not include Rell’s earlier proposal to reassign funds reserved for stem cell research.

But in a statement released by her office late Friday, Rell said the plan doesn’t cut spending enough and counts on unreliable funding sources.

“It is woefully short on real spending cuts and burdensomely high on tax increases,” Rell said in the statement. She is vacationing in Colorado.

The plan also relies $76 million in new revenue by reversing a January 1 reduction in the tax on wealthy estates.

“The governor’s veto threat is unproductive and irresponsible,” said Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn. “The governor is simply shielding multimillionaires at the expense of middle-class families and those who want to end this fiscal crisis.”

A second tax increase in the bill, a 5.5 percent rate on hospital gross revenues, is the linchpin of a Democratic plan to bring more than $165 million in additional federal aid into Connecticut.

All totaled, the Senate measure would wipe nearly $420 million in red ink off the budget. When combined with a recent $100 million reduction in state employee pension fund contributions and an $80 million increase in federal aid tied to prescription drug benefits, state government could eliminate this year’s shortfall entirely, and cut more than $73 million off the $725.7 million deficit projected for 2010-11, Senate Democrats said.

Technically, the spending cuts, tax increases and federal revenue growth included in the Democrats’ bill wouldn’t be able to cancel the entire current deficit before the fiscal year expires in just over three months. But most of those proposals would continue to cut costs or boost revenue after June 30.

So this bill effectively raids next year’s budget now by transferring into the current budget $263 million in emergency reserves originally dedicated to 2010-11. But that raid would be offset by a matching amount of new revenues and cost-savings the plan would create next fiscal year.



  1. *** From that brief article written on the Dem’s Deficit Plan, it sounds like a quick fix state “booster shot” to help cut the state’s deficit by a large margin over a short period of time? Not entirely bad but I personally would like more info and to compare the differences between Rell’s Plan & this one before giving a choice preference-type comment. However, good current short article! ***

  2. TC, you said “BTW when and where is the last time an emergency room closed?”

    Do you believe The New York Times? Read this article talking about emergency room closures happening right now:

    I’m not saying you have to agree with the entire bill. I am saying if you disagree with something, then tell us how you propose solving the problem differently. Note that the status quo is not an option.

    And after a law is passed that makes it illegal to not have health insurance, those people who don’t will be breaking the law. Congress has the right to force people to do anything they want that isn’t specifically proscribed by the Constitution, and even then they’ll try to get around it!

  3. Booty: I read the article it was from 2004 but you point is taken.
    I have stated in previous posts what I don’t like or what I think should be in the bill.
    1. Insurance Companies should be forced to sell insurance across state lines.
    2. Drug companies should be forced to bring their pricing under control. Why does a prescription filled in Canada cost 2 and 3 times less than having that same prescription filled here?
    3. Don’t use cuts in Medicare to help pay for this bill.
    4. No tort reform lawyers get a free ride here.
    5. Forcing employers to furnish health care to part-time workers.
    6. The overall cost of the plan will add to everyone’s tax burden.
    I don’t believe anything in the constitution allows congress to mandate that people buy health insurance. What is next congress mandates everyone put 20% of their income into savings bonds whether they can afford it or not?
    Booty be ready for this time next year when congress passes a Value added tax to the long list of taxes we now pay. Can you imagine a Federal Sales Tax? European countries with national health care have a Value added tax.

  4. These people in Hartford just know one thing and that’s spend and tax. It’s time government realizes it can’t be all things to all people. Stop with the government programs that take care of people from cradle to grave. The people that are working and paying taxes are running out of money.


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