Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy asked the state legislature to consider a $317.5 million quarterly “mini-budget” should the state not pass a budget by Friday’s deadline.
A full “resource allocation plan” for fiscal 2018 would involve even deeper cuts, Malloy said Monday before lawmakers continued negotiating his proposed $39 billion biennial spending plan. State officials say Connecticut needs to close about a $5 billion projected deficit over the two-year period.
“A responsible, short-term option that allows us more time to negotiate a full budget, without making our current problems any worse and without further jeopardizing the state’s bond rating,” Malloy said.
Moody’s Investors Service rates Connecticut general obligation bonds A1, while S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings assign A-plus ratings. Kroll Bond Rating Agency rates them AA-plus. Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey are the only states with ratings below double-A.
Republicans say a full budget is necessary to avoid further wrath from the capital markets.
“The bonding folks are watching us and a lot of people are watching our credibility,” said Senate Republican leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven. “We believe we should be passing a budget by July 1.”
The mini-budget, said Malloy, would enable the adoption of a revenue schedule, even for partial funding, and will allow continued consideration of critical debt-funded projects. In addition, he said, it would reduce the need for project cancellations to stay within the debt limit.
Without a budget, said the governor, the state could not convene the bond commission to issue GO debt, and automatic authorizations would lead to exceeding the debt limit.
The $317.5 million, said Malloy, adopts revenue options common to budget proposals from Democrats and Republicans. The Senate is split 18-18 between the parties, while Democrats have a 79-72 advantage in the House of Representatives.
Municipal aid reductions are less severe, he said, while the mini-budget also softens education-aid cuts. According to Malloy, it provides municipalities additional tools such as an extension of time to adopt budgets and a revision of the motor vehicle tax cap.
It would also restores about $35.6 million of state funding for hospital supplemental payments, including small hospital payments, resulting in total hospital revenue of $111.4 million, including federal share payments.