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Not quite balancing the budget
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It's been a fascinating few days watching the Governor, lawmakers, unions and state agencies dance around the new two-year budget.  Of course, this year's budget address is more than just a new tax & spend plan for the state.  It comes in the middle of a national recession, as we wait for billions in federal stimulus money, and with a gaping chasm between the state's revenues and it's budget.  

The big issue for us in covering this unfolding story: How big the chasm?  The independent office of fiscal analysis puts it at $8.7 billion dollars, Governor Rell's budget closes just a $6 billion gap.  This was the main thrust of our conversation today, with Budget Director Bob Genuario, Senate President Don Williams, and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney.

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Finally, it seems like just last week (oh yeah, it was) that Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo was helping us sift through the tricky world of Health Savings Accounts, and leading listening sessions with Senator Dodd on residents healthcare concerns.

Clearly, this public outreach was not enough for the Governor, who zeroed out his department in the budget - despite the fact that it's actually funded by the health care industry, meaning such a cut wouldn't really save us any money.  

In political speeches, words like "shared sacrifice" are meant to rally support for "tough choices."  But in a world where millions of Americans, and tens of thousands of Connecticut residents have no health care, can we truly make this statement about a Healthcare Advocate: "In times of plenty they are helpful. In times such as these they are unaffordable."

Such times indeed.