HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – With a projected budget deficit of $363 million this year, Gov. Dannel Malloy has ordered immediate cuts amounting to $170 million.
The cuts will affect many services and programs, including food stamps, WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported.
WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story
State budget director Ben Barnes calls the cuts difficult but necessary to balance the budget.
“There is no one reason for the projected shortfall,” said Office of Policy and Management Secretary Barnes in a news release. “The sluggish national economy is part of the equation. Revenue hasn’t recovered as it has in the past when Connecticut was working to climb out of a recession. The demand for services, particularly Medicaid, remains higher than expected. But we have faced larger challenges than this, and done so responsibly. Nothing on that front has changed.”
Lawmakers will be called on to make the next round of cuts worth $200 million, Schneidau reported.
“And we should all remember that as difficult as some of these reductions are to make now, there are more, even tougher choices ahead,” Barnes said.
The fiscal year 2014 budget shortfall is forecast to top $1 billion, officials said.
Before Malloy implemented the immediate cuts, concern over the growing deficit was expressed by at least one of Connecticut’s legislative money men over the state’s financial picture.
“You can’t tax your way to prosperity and we’re seeing that right now,” said St. Sen. Rob Kane, the ranking member on the appropriations committee. “We’ve had zero job growth. We have nine percent unemployment. We have the highest taxes in the country. We have the highest energy prices in the country, the highest health care costs in the country.”
Kane says even Malloy’s budget chief can’t firmly rule out higher taxes.
“We really need to know after the greatest tax increase in our state’s history – $1.8 billion – are you going to raise it again or are you willing to make the spending cuts that need to be made?” Kane said.
But Kane said sweeping changes, including government outsourcing, must be made if Connecticut is to prosper.
“Government should provide four basic function – public health, public safety, education, and infrastructure,” Kane told Schneidau. “Beyond that, everything needs to be looked at.”
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