Gov. Malloy asks Republicans to help cut budget
State budget: Governor meets with Republican leaders to discuss spending cuts
HARTFORD -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday announced a framework for dealing with the state's burgeoning budget deficit, offering a list of about $243 million in cuts from the current $20 billion spending package.
The reductions in the budget that runs through June 30 would be combined with $170 million in cuts already ordered by Malloy, who met with minority Republican leaders Friday morning. Malloy said he is committed to a bipartisan approach.
"Let's put it in perspective,:we're talking about a little over 1 percent of the entire budget that needs to be adjusted," he told several reporters after the meeting. "We are capable of doing that on a bipartisan basis. I firmly believe that, and we move forward."
More InformationAnatomy of a shortfall: * Sales and use taxes, estimated to total $4.12 billion when the budget was approved last spring, have sagged to $4 billion because of the lingering recession, a $120,000 shortfall. * Revenue from the two Indian casinos also fell off to $312 million, about $25 million below projections. * Tax refunds were about $100 million more than spring estimates. * Medicaid expenses in the state Department of Social Services that were $3.3 billion in 2006, are now more than $5 billion, an indicator that more people have lost their health insurance along with their jobs. There is a shortfall of $260 million and a caseload of 83,827, which in the spring, state officials did not anticipate reaching until August of 2013.
Overall, the cuts would also work toward an anticipated $1.18 billion deficit in the budget set to take effect July 1.
Malloy's proposed spending reductions, which he called a "roadmap" for lawmakers to consider when bipartisan meetings start next week, include $9.4 million in his budget staff, the Office of Policy and Management. Debt service payments would be reduced by $25 million because of favorable interest rates in last month's bond sale.
Other proposed cuts include:
$2.6 million in the Department of Economic and Community Development.
$5.4 million in the Department of Developmental Services.
$63.5 million in the Department of Social Services.
$13.6 million in the Department of Education.
$10.7 million in the Department of Correction.
$4.6 million in the Department of Children and Families.
$2 million each from the Legislative and Judicial branches.
Emerging from Malloy's office after the morning meeting, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, of Fairfield, and House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., of Norwalk, pledged the support of their caucuses in reaching a bottom line.
"We had a very good conversation," Cafero said. "What the governor has proposed is laying out a framework for a bipartisan solution to the problems we face, and I think he's very sincere about having us all at the table to work out this."
On Thursday, the governor met with majority Democrats, who control the House 99-52 and the Senate 22-14. Both sides will meet throughout next week in attempt to reach consensus when the special session of the Legislature meets Dec. 19.
"There's a genuine desire on the governor's behalf and ours to try to solve this problem in a bipartisan manner," McKinney said. "I think we both made that very clear to each other, and I think we've come together on a process in which we can make that happen."
Cafero said that while in the past Republicans have called for sharp spending cuts that were ignored by Democrats, the current deficit, ranging from $365 million to $417 million, necessitates a bipartisan solution.
"We've often called for cutting, but no one has ever said we relish the opportunity, nor is it easy," Cafero said. "I think my caucus knows it's a tough road ahead, but they also know it's something that we have to do."
McKinney and Cafero said that while the budget and associated shortfall are the responsibility of the Democrats, their minority caucuses were elected to work for taxpayers.
"We ran for office for a reason," McKinney. "We want to make our state a better place and we believe we have an important voice and important and good ideas that can help solve the problem. We want to be part of that. There's the added benefit of demonstrating to the people of Connecticut that we can actually get our business done in a bipartisan manner."
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