Appropriations Committee Okays 2017 Midterm Budget, but it Won’t be the Last Word
The ink was barely dry on the Appropriations Committee’s $19.9 billion alternative 2017 budget Wednesday when Governor Malloy announced that it did not cut spending deep enough and that he would produce yet another proposal next week to address the state’s growing deficit. Nonetheless, the Committee approved the bill along party lines by a vote of 33-24.
The Appropriations Committee budget includes some $570 million in cuts, about equal to what the Governor first proposed in his budget back in February. The problem is the deficit has continued to grow; new deficit numbers are now projecting a shortfall of about $930 million for 2017. Republicans and the Governor labeled the budget “incomplete.” Sen. Beth Bye, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, responded that this is just one more step in the process, in other words negotiations are ongoing.
In many cases, the Committee restored, for purposes of transparency, line item accounts and reduced them by 5.75 percent across-the-board whereas the Governor had proposed reducing, consolidating and shifting the accounts to the Comptroller’s Office.
- $200 million in cuts to personal services, which presumably would come from hiring freezes or layoffs.
- Reduce education funding to municipalities by $41.6 million.
- Reduce hospital payment-in-lieu-of-taxes to municipalities by $9.6 million.
- Transfer certain functions and costs to the State Transportation Fund, including school transportation funding and some emergency management and public safety functions.
- Restore funding for State Broadband Office within the Office of Consumer Counsel.
- Maintained line-item accounts within Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and reduced appropriations in each by 5.75 percent.
- Transfer CT Humanities Council from State Library to DECD.
- Restore funding to Easy Breathing program.
- Transfer various services from the Department of Developmental Services to the Department of Social Services, including autism programs.
- Privatize 20 residential group homes.
- Reduce burial benefit from $1,400 to $1,200 (Governor’s budget proposed reducing it to $1,000).
- Create individual accounts for hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Care Centers under Medicaid and reduce Medicaid by $50 million.
- Create independent line item account for charter schools and reduce funding by $1,727,000.
- Designate the Old State House a state park and give the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responsibility for its administration.
- Increase health contributions by certain state agency personnel and state lawmakers.
“In this budget, everybody is touched,” said State Rep. Toni Walker, House co-chair of Appropriations. She added that over the next four weeks before adjournment, more work will be done on the budget.