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State Deficiencies Reduced, Budget Uncertainties Remain

by Hugh McQuaid | Nov 22, 2011 6:30am
(9) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: State Budget

Hugh McQuaid file photo

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes

In his monthly letter to the state comptroller, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes painted a somewhat sunnier budgetary picture than he gave to the legislature’s Appropriations Committee four days earlier.

The state is currently spending $9.3 million less than it appropriated for the year. The number is down $12 million from a week ago when Barnes told the Appropriations Committee that the state was spending $2.7 million more than appropriated levels.

Deficiencies in state accounts have also decreased from last week when he projected a $33 million shortfall, most of which was the result of the increased Medicaid population. As of Nov. 18 the number amounted to $12 million, $7.6 million of which came from the Department of Social Services’ Medicaid account.
                       
Barnes said the deficiencies are more than offset by a $65 million lapse in the Treasurer’s Debt Service account caused by lower than expected costs from bond sales. Another $24 million is expected to lapse in the Department of Children and Families, where caseloads have been lower than budgeted, he said. There are also a total of $4.3 million in lapses in other state accounts, he said.
                       
OPM is projecting a $79.1 million General Fund balance at the end of the fiscal year, $3.5 million more than last month, Barnes said. That is $4.1 million more than the $75 million reserved for the transition to Generally Accepted Accounting Principals.

However Barnes cited some potential problem areas, including an upcoming evaluation of the State Employees Retirement Fund and the uncertain impact of the changes made to the health care policies of state employees. The uncertainty is caused by the fact that more state workers chose to sign up for Health Enhancement Program than were expected.

“...based on higher than anticipated enrollment in the Health Enhancement Program and the limited expenditure data available to this office, a significant shortfall is possible for these accounts; as more data becomes available a revised estimate can be made,” he wrote.
 
Revenues are expected to drop this month by $8.5 million due to tax breaks passed during the October special session on jobs, he said. Aside from that revenues are consistent with last month, he said.
                   
Barnes said his projections do not yet include any money the state spent in the aftermath of the two major storms in August and October. Those expenditures are still being tallied, he said. The federal government has also yet to pass its budget and it’s unclear whether it will impact funding to state programs, he said.

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(9) Comments

posted by: Disgruntled | November 22, 2011  2:22pm

Deval Patrick just reduced your revenue Ben! Better factor a rather steep decline in the $15 million per casino per month Connecticut has been taking in,and,while that revenue has been declining for years it was part of the lotto-casino-real estate trifecta that supported this state.
Hmmmm…what can you come up with now? SECOND FIVE JIVE? Stop hiring completely? Give us all jobs as tree trimmers for CLP so we can pay for your profligate spending?

posted by: ... | November 22, 2011  6:11pm

...

Well I’m glad Disgruntled you expect those MA casino’s are already up and running and ready to steal CT tourism dollars in an instant. They sure are different up there.

posted by: Careful | November 23, 2011  12:16pm

JonessAC12:  Your down-playing a certain reality—is strictly your choice of a comment.

posted by: ... | November 23, 2011  11:39pm

...

Well, if your ‘certain reality’ is that casino owners already have shovels in the ground and Barnes has to worry about 15 million per month within the year, then you’re right and we should be extremely concerned. Otherwise casinos of Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun proportions are going to be 5-10 years down the road, well after the Malloy administration’s first term. But then again, I prefer reality over ‘certain reality’ smile.

posted by: Careful | November 24, 2011  9:00pm

JonessAC12: Whatever you prefer, is only your personal choice
of making another comment, not reality.  Disgruntled did not suggest that Massachusetts casinos are ready to steal tourism dollars in an instant. That was your ploy, to discredit his opinion.  Give people an option to air their views, Jonessey.

posted by: Disgruntled | November 25, 2011  10:33am

The casino industry in Connecticut has been in a decline for five+ years.Part of a general industrial decline in Connecticut.
I find it amusing that politicians can extrapolate and spin “job creation” numbers (say,for a bus line near Hartford) going out ten+ years and yet choose to ignore the revenue side that has been so important for so long. The cow has been milked dry and Dan has no problem increasing taxes to make up for declining revenue.

posted by: ... | November 25, 2011  7:41pm

...

Of course I never discredited his opinion Careful, as I stated if this were instantaneous it would be a legitimate concern. But the opinion he presented is as though the Malloy administration will have to confront this head on in the coming year (which is unreal). However, if there is a 2nd term for Malloy, then this will be a definite concern. But thank you for your concern Careful about my writing =). I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

posted by: Careful | November 25, 2011  8:37pm

Disgruntled:  It boils down to the fact that voters voted for a free-spending politician, who only knows how to raise taxes—but doesn’t have a clue on how to run the business, be was elected to administer to.  We did it to ourselves, by electing a fast-talking lawyer from Stamford, who only knows how to excel at being a “political hack”.

posted by: Careful | November 26, 2011  8:43pm

JonessAC12: Thank you for your concern, also. Merry Christmas—Happy Holidays to you and yours—along with the participants, readers, and staff of Ct. News Junkie.