Clock Is Ticking Governor and lawmakers still dawdle
August 09, 2009
On July 30, Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Democrats who control the legislature unveiled budget proposals that for the first time used the same deficit projections and contained the seeds of an agreement.
That made it possible not likely, but possible for the leaders, who had not met since July 21, to get down to serious budget talks and get their work done.
In retrospect, how naοve it was to think so. These folks are stuck on the horns of a philosophical disagreement about how much to spend and how much to tax. They aren't ready to find a happy medium, although the state has been operating without a budget for more than a month.
Mrs. Rell's new budget plan includes new taxes in the amount of $391 million for the first time. For that reason it repelled her fellow Republicans in the General Assembly, who came up with their own tax-free, wishful-thinking budget plan that made her cuts look reasonable by comparison.
The Democrats' new budget with $1.8 million in new taxes and fees could pass both chambers but would be vetoed by the governor. An override would be unlikely.
Tuesday, the two sides met for part of the morning before taking leave. The top leaders may not meet again to address the state's most important business until tomorrow.
Their stubbornness, dillydallying and secrecy are getting far too ripe. Pennsylvania is the only other state whose legislature still hasn't passed a current-year budget. North Carolina was also lagging, but its legislature approved a budget Wednesday.
More than likely, Connecticut's leaders will still be at odds by the next deadline Sept. 1. This state has not gone into the third month of a new fiscal year without a budget within memory.
This unnecessary delay will have consequences.
State Treasurer Denise Nappier has warned that bond-rating agencies might lower Connecticut's rating if a budget deal is not reached soon. That would increase the cost of borrowing and limit the market for the state's bonds.
And, of course, the lawmakers' and governor's image will suffer from this prolonged bout of irresponsibility. Eighty-eight percent of respondents in the most recent Quinnipiac University poll said that the failure to adopt a state budget by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, was a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem.
What are they going to think if the governor and legislature are still at odds when Labor Day rolls around?
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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