Just when you thought it couldn’t get more bizarre…
On Monday, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, whose office was created in 1786 “to provide accounting and financial services, to administer employee and retiree benefits, to develop accounting policy and exercise accounting oversight, and to prepare financial reports for state, federal and municipal governments and the public” performed his monthly legal duty by releasing what is called his Letter of the First.
The Letter of the First is the legal document that serves as “a monthly analysis of the state’s budget condition that contains the financial statements for the latest month and projections for the budget position to year’s end.”
In that letter, Comptroller Lembo determined that this year’s projected state deficit is $415 million, not the $365 million that the Office of Policy and Management had previously announced.
As required by law, if the State Comptroller determines that there will be a projected deficit of greater than 1 percent of the state budget, the Governor MUST develop and propose a Deficit Mitigation Plan and the Connecticut General Assembly must meet to consider that plan.
According to CTNewsjunkie’ s coverage of developments, “Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wasn’t concerned that state Comptroller Kevin Lembo certified a deficit that was $50 million higher than the one his budget office estimated last month.”
Malloy told reporters, “These numbers are going to go up and down…We’re moving forward with our package, which addresses a set of numbers.”
But of course, under the law, it is totally irrelevant what Malloy and his budget office think. If the State Comptroller certifies that there will be deficit of greater than 1 percent, the Governor has the legal obligation to propose a solution to address that deficit.
According to CTNewsjunkie, Governor Malloy then went on to say, “The comptroller thinks we will spend more money than we did — he may be right…I was told similar predictions were made last year and they didn’t turn out to be right, so we’re dealing with the numbers we believe currently represent that challenge.”
Malloy’s suggestion that Lembo has been wrong in the past is off-base, but even more importantly, as was just noted, IF the individual who is legally responsible for being the state’s fiscal watchdog says the projected deficit is $415 million, then the “correct” number is $415 million…not “the numbers we believe currently represent the challenge”.
Finally, the Governor summarized the situation by saying, “We’re going to continue going down the path of dealing with it in a forthright, fair, and transparent manner.”
So just so we all have the same set of facts…
In the days leading up to this year’s election, the Malloy administration maintained their claim that the budget deficit was not more than $60 million.
Then in the course of two weeks it jumped to $128 million and then $365 million.
And just last week, when Malloy announced his $160 million in “budget cuts,” it turned out that he was double counting more than $40 million of those cuts and his action really reduced state spending by $123 million.
One can say a lot of things about the way the Malloy administration are handling the ongoing budget crisis, but “forthright, fair, and transparent” sure isn’t one of them.
You can find CTNewsjunkie’s story here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/malloy_not_concerned_about_higher_deficit/