With a third consecutive year of budget surpluses, Gov. Ned Lamont is proposing a series of adjustments in the second year of Connecticut’s 2022-23 biennium budget that would increase total spending to $24.2 billion.
The proposal, if adopted, would spend an additional 2.4% in taxpayer dollars into the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“Connecticut has made significant progress since the budget impasse in 2017,” Lamont wrote in a summary of the fiscal year 2023 adjustments. “Three consecutive fiscal years have closed in surplus and the state has the most robust budget reserve fund in its history, and one of the most robust in the country.”
Several factors have played into the positive momentum, Lamont said, including the large influx of federal money from various pandemic relief bills. Efforts to pay down previously unfunded pension liabilities also contributed, Lamont said.
Members of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee have begun hashing out Lamont’s proposed adjustments through a series of meetings and hearings. The committee includes both chambers of the legislature.
At the committee’s first meeting, panelists heard a high-level overview of the fiscal 2023 adjustments from Melissa McCaw, secretary of the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.
The enacted appropriation for fiscal 2023 is $23.6 billion, and the added $556 million in new spending would increase the budget’s size to $24.2 billion.
In her presentation to the committee, McCaw said prior reforms have given the state more flexibility in tackling spending priorities in different departments.
“We’re demonstrating that Connecticut is handling its budget differently,” McCaw said.
The state’s fund balance – the portion of the budget set aside for unexpected occurrences – represents 15% of the overall budget.
“Our budget reserve continues to remain healthy,” McCaw said. Speaking to its status in light of the proposed adjustments, she said, “We expect to remain at 15%.”
Most of the increased spending would go toward the state’s general fund, if approved as-is. Funds also could be added toward the special transportation fund, insurance fund and a line item devoted to the consumer council and public utility control, among others.
With the adjustments in the mix, McCaw highlighted a number of the spending plans Lamont and his administration have in mind in the second year of the biennium budget.
In the upcoming fiscal 2023 budget, Lamont’s revised proposal includes a total contribution of $159.5 million toward behavioral health care, $100.4 million toward broadband and technology and $87.4 million toward workforce development.
McCaw also touched on a plan to lower local car taxes. Changes in Lamont’s budget amendment include lowering the rate cap on motor vehicles from 45 mills to 29 mills.
The adjustment of a 29-mill cap on all motor vehicles would provide property tax relief for an additional 1.7 million vehicle owners in 103 towns. McCaw said the towns on the list include 20 of the 25 most distressed municipalities in Connecticut.
With a targeted April 8 deadline in mind, members of the Appropriations Committee anticipate digging into a number of the granular aspects of the budget in short order.
State Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, said the process will be swift.
“We’re all on speed roll to meet our deadlines,” said Walker, who co-chairs the committee. “There is no flexibility in our schedule.”
This article was originally posted on Gov. Lamont proposes 2.4% increase in spending in fiscal 2023 budget