Bad Debt

An article published by Governing Magazine includes bad news on Connecticut's public debt in relation to the other 50 states.

According to a recent study, Connecticut and three other states have the worst revenue to debt ratio in the country. Most of the trouble comes from overly burdensome pension and healthcare commitments to past and present state employees.

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Layoff Stall

For reasons that are unclear right now, the Malloy administration seems to be falling short of its own plan for state employee layoffs.

According to the CT Mirror, the administration has only made about half the target number of 2,000. Earlier this year the administration said it wanted to reach its target by June 10.

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Poor Grades

Some may argue with the methodology, but the Mercatus Center at George Mason University is out with a new study that does not reflect well on the state of Connecticut.

The survey ranks Connecticut 50th among the 50 states based on five categories of measurement. Puerto Rico falls behind Connecticut at 51.

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500K x 500K

A bill known as S.B. 1, which was eventually moved inside the state budget implementation bill, is getting lots of attention.

The legislation is written to put into state policy a plan to create half a million new jobs and attract the same number of new residents to Connecticut over the next 25 years. It aims to do so by making Connecticut a magnet for entrepreneurs.

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CT Debt

A new report from the Pew Center says Connecticut has among the highest public debt burdens in the United States. We rank 5th.

The biggest portion of that debt is linked public employee pensions and retiree health care costs.

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CT Manufacturing Not Dead

In a state tormented by negative economic news the manufacturing sector is sounding a bright note.

The number of manufacturing jobs has been rising and demand for those jobs is increasing as older workers retire. However, even this good news includes challenging trends. Lower starting salaries are keeping income tax revenues down.

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Optimistic and Pessimistic

A new survey from InformCT, and administered by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc., says most Connecticut residents are feeling better about their own personal financial situations, but are pessimistic about the condition and future of Connecticut state finances.

As a result, many are curtailing their spending.

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Budget Analysis

CT News Junkie published this analysis of the just completed legislative session, the budget debate and a look at what's next.

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Rainy Day Fund in Play

CT News Junkie is reporting that it is likely part of Connecticut's budget reserve fund may be used to balance the current year's projected budget deficit.

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes says there is not enough time left in the current fiscal year to fill a deficit of approximately $250 million without tapping into the reserve account.

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HBJ: Departures Show Job Not Done

The Hartford Business Journal says this year's list of retiring state legislators shows Connecticut still faces a significant fiscal crisis and the departures may be a sign some do not want to be around when the hard decisions are made.

It is true that even as lawmakers celebrated the conclusion of a budget deal two weeks ago, almost all acknowledged difficult challenges will face the new legislature after the fall elections.

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Time to Prioritize

by Scott Bates

Governor Dannel Malloy and legislators deserve credit for addressing the state’s budget deficit during this year’s legislative session. As important as the work that was accomplished; is the way in which it was done.

At a time when residents and business leaders are demanding greater accountability and value from state government, leaders balanced the budget primarily by cutting spending and without increasing taxes. The tone was set early by the governor and lawmakers did their best to follow his lead. But as everyone knows, there is still lots of work to do.

Just Starting

Debate continues at the state capitol over the tentative budget agreement to close the existing $1 billion deficit. The Office of Fiscal Analysis now says the plan will significantly reduce future projected deficits, but not eliminate them.

This analysis confirms what many have been saying for months about the state of Connecticut's finances. While lawmakers may be close to solving the current budget problem a major re-tooling of state spending will be necessary when the new legislature is sworn in next year.

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Sign of Shift?

The early decision by Governor Malloy and some legislative leaders to insist on a no new taxes approach to the current projected budget deficit is being seen by some as a sign a major policy shift may be possible.

The decision by General Electric, and others in the business community, at the end of last year's legislative session to speak out in protest, is being credited with changing the way lawmakers think about improving the state's business climate. The hope is this change in thinking leads to a more predictable pattern of policy-making.

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Vote Expected

A vote is scheduled for May 12 on the latest state budget agreement.

The deal includes no new taxes, but the one week delay in a final vote is giving time to critics seeking more spending.

Governor Malloy has said any new spending will kill the agreement in his mind. All agree this budget deal sets the table for a closer look at the need for major reforms in the next legislative session. With revenues declining, there is even the possibility further adjustments will be necessary before the end of the year.

Budget Update

Time ran out Wednesday in this year's legislative session and the decision was made to postpone a vote on the proposed budget fix until a special session next week.

Governor Malloy has warned lawmakers against attempting to re-open negotiations on the budget in the intervening time. Here is a round-up of coverage.

Special Session Next Week - Hartford Courant

Overtime - CT Mirror

Spate of Retirements - CT Mirror

Session Limps to End - CT News Junkie

Malloy Warns Lawmakers - Journal Inquirer via Hartford Business Journal

Fast Moving Final Day

It appears legislative Democrats and Governor Malloy have agreed on a budget plan that closes a $1 billion deficit without raising taxes, but it is unclear whether it can be passed on the final day of the legislative session and whether it has any Republican support.

Here is some of the latest coverage that is changing hour by hour:

Budget Deal - CT Mirror

Deep Cuts, No Taxes - Hartford Courant

Dems Get Budget Deal - CT News Junkie

Changing Dynamics

by Pete Gioia

For years we’ve said we need to turn the tide on state spending. To create an atmosphere for investment that kick starts state revenues and grows the economic pie, we’ve said change is necessary.

An unsustainable cycle of deficits and tax increases, we’ve warned, will mean hitting a wall where job creation stalls and the revenue well runs dry. We’ve hit that wall.

Final Days - Deficit Dives

With less than 72 hours left in this year's legislative session the possibility of a budget compromise before the adjournment deadline seems unlikely.

Governor Malloy and legislative Democrats are at odds over how to proceed and as of Friday the projected budget deficit for this year and next grew to a cumulative number that now tops $1 billion.

Budget Woes Worsen - Hartford Business Journal

Malloy, Democrats; Different Views - CT Mirror

Budget Wrangling

There are reports today suggesting legislative Democrats have come up with an alternative budget proposal to close combined deficits of $1 billion.

Democrats have not shared any proposals with the governor's office or legislative Republicans. Wednesday, a spokesman for Governor Malloy said the governor has no interest in signing a budget deal he has not been part of. This appears to be a second veto threat in as many weeks. This is unusual since both the governor's office and the legislature are controlled by Democrats.

The current legislative session is scheduled to end next Wednesday.

Identifying the Challenges

The Commission for Economic Competitiveness is out with its first report identifying some of the major challenges facing Connecticut.

Agreeing with language being used in recent months by Governor Malloy, the commission's first published report suggests the Connecticut economy has settled into a "new normal" marked by; reduced growth, a changing population and fundamental changes in the traditional business sectors that - for years - were the engines of Connecticut's economic strength.

The next step in the commission's work is to identify strategies and develop tactics to execute those strategies.

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Q-Poll

Last week's Quinnipiac Poll had some telling numbers on the thinking of Connecticut voters as they head to the polls in Tuesday's presidential primary.

Most of the coverage of the poll last week was focused on the race itself, but as telling were the numbers on top issues among likely voters.

30% of voters in each party said the "economy and jobs" are their top concerns. Up to 12% in each party said state government spending needs to be reduced. Only concerns about terrorism came close to jobs, the economy and government spending as a top issue.

GOP Budget

While Democrats prepare to vote this week on a budget plan many think Governor Malloy will be forced to veto, Republican lawmakers introduced an alternative on Monday.

Far from dismissing the GOP plan as dead on arrival, a spokesman for Malloy thanked Republicans for putting forward a thoughtful proposal while acknowledging more work would be needed to secure the governor's approval. This is a long way from politics as usual, but still also a long way from a deal.

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Progress on Regionalization

by Mary Glassman

The stroke of midnight on May 4 will signal the official close of Connecticut’s 2016 legislative session. Regardless of what bills pass during the last few days at the Capitol, this session clearly marks the beginning of a bold approach to regional cooperation, and it paves the way for us to meet the state’s growing needs and demographic changes.

Malloy on Budget - ICYMI

In case you missed it - Governor Dannel Malloy was a guest last week on WNPR's Where We Live program, during which he had a spirited discussion with host John Dankosky about the state of the Connecticut budget.

Malloy was very insistent during the interview about the need to balance the budget this year without raising taxes and used several arguments Republicans have used for years to make his point.

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