Sept. 11 Budget

With surprising routine, the Connecticut legislature is moving slowly toward a September 11th vote on a state budget for the next two years.

By that date, the budget will be more than 50 days late causing chaos for cities and towns and other who rely on state funding.

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Cities and Towns

Connecticut municipalities, and the level of aid they receive each year from state government, are at the center of the budget debate taking place this summer at the capitol.

The CT Mirror has put together a data rich survey of state aid in an effort to understand the issues.

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Fiscal Health

In a new analysis from Pew, Connecticut is among the states that chronically allows expenses to exceed revenues.

The findings are included in Pew's regular "Fiscal 50" report which sizes up the health of all 50 states.

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41 Days

It has now been 41 days since Connecticut missed its budget deadline for the next two fiscal years.

Talks are continuing at the capitol, but there appears to be no end to the stalemate in sight. Meanwhile, cities and towns, providers of social services and taxpayers in general all face the growing possibility that the lack of a state budget may begin to impact the ability to conduct business as usual and our quality of life. Recent decisions by General Electric and Aetna to move their headquarters out of state have been blamed primarily on the concern that Connecticut state government appears to have no long term plan when it comes to budgeting. CT21 has offered a series of suggestions for more efficient use of state government resources over the last decade. Those ideas are all included on the Institute's website.

Consumer Confidence Down

The latest quarterly survey of consumer confidence in Connecticut shows rising concern over the state of the economy and the lack of fiscal discipline in state government.

The survey was conducted by InformCT a project of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.

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Slow Going

As mid-August approaches Connecticut still has no budget in place for the next two years. And there are few signs that is changing any time soon.

The issue of the moment is a proposal by some Democrats to raise or expand application of the state sales tax as a means to increase revenue. As expected, the idea is meeting with resistance from Republicans and some special interests.

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Budget Next

The state Senate gave final legislative approval Monday to a controversial union concession package crafted to save $1.6 billion.

Now legislative leaders must turn to the month late overall state budget which is $3.5 million out of balance.

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Crucial Vote

An important vote is scheduled Monday in the state Senate on whether to accept the terms of a concession package negotiated with state employee unions. Observers are watching the vote of three Democrats considered to be moderates. All three votes are needed to ensure an 18-18 tie that would presumably be broken in favor of the agreement by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.

Republicans have been urging rejection. They claim additional savings can be achieved by changing the laws governing collective bargaining with public employees. Proponents of the deal say it will save the state $1.6 billion.

Squeeze Is On

The on-going state budget crisis at the capitol is putting a major financial squeeze on cities and towns and it is about to get worse.

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TOD Taking Hold?

There are growing signs many Connecticut communities are making investments in transit oriented development in an attempt to enhance property values and reduce traffic congestion.

The CT Mirror has a report.

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Providers Put $300M on Table

As Governor Malloy predicts the state may end up waiting until the fall before there is an agreement on the budget, providers of social services are arguing they can save the state $300 million.

A trade association for providers says its members can provide vital social services to Connecticut residents at lower cost if the legislature will make the policy decision to move in that direction. The claims by providers is backed up by previous research performed by CT21.

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Not on Board

According to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, many of its members are not sure the union concession package approved by the state House of Representatives this week, is in the best long term interest of the state.

A vote in the Senate is expected next week. The package is meant to save nearly $1.6 billion, but Republicans think more can be saved by changing the laws that govern labor relations with state employees.

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Some Progress

Some progress is expected this week on the state budget stalemate.

Monday the House is expected to approve a $1.5 billion union concession package. Its future is uncertain in the evenly divided Senate.

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Defense Inflection

A CT21 policy brief released this year shows Connecticut is at an inflection point with regard to its defense industry. Demand is increasing, but the state is facing a challenge when it comes to supplying the workforce necessary to deliver the product.

CT21 Senior Fellow Loren Dealy Mahler explains the opportunities presented by the challenge.

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Parole Reform

In case you missed it, the PBS documentary series Frontline, featured a one hour report on Connecticut's efforts to reform its parole system.

The reforms, pushed by Governor Malloy, have been generally supported by CT21 on policy and economic grounds.

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Time Running Out - Again

With less than two weeks to go to the end of the month, Governor Malloy and the legislature are stuck in terms of reaching a budget agreement.

Results of a rank and file vote on union concessions is expected Tuesday. Union acceptance of a Malloy negotiated concessions agreement is a key to any final budget deal. Republicans are asking for more detail on the agreement even as they call for a fundamentally new approach to labor relations.

Governor Malloy is urging lawmakers to adopt a mini-budget, to cover a few weeks, if they can't come to agreement on a full budget. Malloy says without legislative guidance he is forced to administer state spending on his own, which inevitably leads to undesireable and potentially damaging spending cuts.

Defense Hiring

As CT21 pointed out in its most recent policy brief, Connecticut is facing a boom in the defense industry. As a result, there is a growing demand for skilled workers in the field.

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Mental Health Providers

Providers of mental health care in Connecticut are concerned that Medicaid cuts at the federal level and a growing budget crisis at the state level will combine to seriously reduce access to mental health services.

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Budget Update

With no deal in sight, legislative leaders say they will not vote on a new two-year budget on July 18 as previously planned.

In the meantime, Republicans are making a pitch to change the way state employee union contracts are negotiated in the future. In short, they want a completely new set of rules to take effect in 2022.

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Budget Gridlock Continues

There is still no sign of an agreement on a new state budget two weeks after the end of the last fiscal year.

Republicans offered their own version of a spending plan Tuesday and asked for a vote. One way to break a budget impasse is for legislative leadership to force votes on various budget plans until all sides begin to see where to compromise.

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Still Recovering

A new report says Connecticut is one of five states that still has not fully recovered from the recession that began in late 2008.

The news backs up an argument Governor Malloy has been making since last year as he tries to convince lawmakers the old rules can no longer apply to the state budget process.

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New Budget Process

In an article published in Hearst Connecticut newspapers, Robert Santy of Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc., says Connecticut needs to adopt a new budgeting process. Santy says the current approach obviously is not working and he argues that we should begin by setting priorities based on existing revenue.

Priority based budgeting is a concept CT21 has supported throughout its history.

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Providers Offer Cost Savings

Connecticut is among just a few states with no budget in place for the current fiscal year and there is little sign of movement toward agreement.

Meanwhile, providers of social services funded by the state are concerned about their clients and concerned that lawmakers continue to ignore their ideas for cost savings.

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Medicaid Costs Down

A new study finds Connecticut's Medicaid costs per patient have been dropping, but Medicare spending is up in our state.

The news comes as governors from across the country fight to maintain current Medicaid spending levels as Republicans in Congress seek to reform the national healthcare law.

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