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State Leaders Bridge Budget Deficit But Tougher Challenge Looms

Hartford Courant Editorial

April 15, 2010

Proving that it's possible for all parties to work together in a spirit of compromise, Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the General Assembly agreed this week on a plan that eliminates most of the projected state budget deficit for the fiscal year 2010, which ends June 30.

We applaud the sense of urgency that evidently produced the deal three weeks before this session ends. It's refreshingly different from the typical Russian Front-style siege warfare between the Republican governor and legislative Democrats, to which Connecticut taxpayers have become inured.

The $371 million budget gap was cut by $323 million by taking cash reserves from next year and offsetting them with 2011 budget cuts; by a large dollop of federal money; by sucking more money out of special accounts such as the fund for publicly financed elections; and by some very painful cuts to programs much of them to health and education services used by low-income families.

The remaining deficit of $48 million can be eliminated entirely if tax revenues prove to be more robust than anticipated.

But the low-hanging fruit has been plucked, as state Rep. Vincent Candelora of North Branford mused. The projected deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is $725.7 million. And there's a staggering $3.9 billion in red ink forecast for the fiscal year after that.

Taxes, municipal aid, salaries for well-paid deputy commissioners protected in this round by Mrs. Rell, entire agencies, cherished programs, compensation and benefits for employees, layoffs all will have to be on the negotiating table.

This deal, as glad as we are that it got made, was beanbag compared with what's to come.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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