Wednesday, April 29, 2009

State Speaker of the House Chris Donovan Talks Budget

Middletown's freshman legislator invited Speaker of the House Chris Donovan to address citizens on the state budget, and there were few surprises in his address.

Donovan explained that state revenues are down severely, that the Democratic legislator and the Republican governor have offered up clashing budgets which begin at a very different premise. The Dems are projecting an $8-9 billion deficit over the next three years. The governor sets her budget assuming a $6 billion deficit over the same period.

"She's about a billion short in each year when it comes to her budget," Donovan concluded.

Donovan entertained questions, mostly from elected officials in the room. Council member Tom Serra asked about the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program through which Middletown is regularly shorted by the state. The current governor's budget cuts even deeper.

Council member Gerry Daley suggested that the state should only pay PILOT money, in full, to facilities for which they promised a 100% reimbursement, like the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in town.

Donovan was not optimistic that such a plan would work.

Durham's first Selectman Laura Francis asked when the budget would be complete, because an unfinished budget hamstrings municipalities. She also asked if the state would consider backing off unfunded mandates.

Lesser handled the mandate question, noting that a package of mandate relief was on the way. Donovan would not promise that the budget would be completed on time.

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