From the Capitol / State Sen. Bob Duff
Governor's budget: honest effort, more cuts needed
Last week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy delivered his first budget address. In it the governor detailed his plans to close the state's multi-billion-dollar deficit and balance the budget for the next two years.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I'm currently reviewing -- page by page, line item by line item -- the details of the governor's proposal. While I feel strongly that we do need to cut more spending, I commend Gov. Malloy for presenting a balanced budget, one devoid of the usual political gimmicks, stealth borrowing and accounting sleight of hand.
Gov. Malloy's effort represents the first honest attempt to address our problems in a long time, something I greatly appreciate. This "reality" approach aims to fix a long-overdue budget problem. Yes, a problem this old and this big may necessitate tax increases. And yes, this will impact us in Fairfield County.
However, unlike budgets from the previous three years, Fairfield County will not be left holding the bag. We'll all equally pitch in now to erase this budget deficit and I expect we'll all share equally in the rewards as our economy improves. This new governor plays fair and square.
Here are some details of the budget proposal:
"¢ $800 million in spending cuts, and an overall reduction in spending over the current year. And I'm still looking to trim more "fat;"
"¢ Maximized federal funding for health care for seniors and hospitals;
"¢ Consolidated departments and reduced personnel at state agencies. Finally some efficiency in government;
"¢ Concessions by state employees of 20 percent -- equal to $1 billion per year;
"¢ Full funding of the state employee pension fund -- first time in recent memory;
"¢ Full funding for education and municipal aid. This keeps a tax burden off the backs of local property owners;
"¢ Short-term debt paid off with any available current year surpluses so we pay less in interest and keep politicians from finding new ways to spend your money;
"¢ Implement Generally Accepted Accounting Practices to increase transparency and accountability regarding the fiscal health of the state.
We still have a lot of work to do. Unlike the federal government, the State of Connecticut must have a balanced budget. But before we consider any new taxes, I will search out every possible cost saving measure. I take this job very seriously.