Last year, the Democratic state legislature a two-year budget without the Republican governor’s signature. But as state income tax and sales tax revenues continued to fall, the short-term outlook grew worse.
On Monday, state Comptroller Nancy Wyman projected a $515 million hole in this year’s budget. Now, the attention turns to Rell, who will give her budget address Wednesday.
Jeffrey Beckham, one of Rell’s budget advisors, wouldn’t say much about Rell’s plans. He did say that the Republican governor has promised no big surprises.
“It will be similar to the kinds of things we’ve been proposing for the past year, year and half. This governor has focused on trying to reduce spending and streamline and sort of rightsize our government for these times."
Senate President Donald Williams said that both parties will have to move out of their comfort zones to solve this year's budget problem. He said Republicans will have to consider ideas like closing major state agencies. His Democrats will have to make more and deeper cuts.
“This is a task that we have to meet because we've got bigger problems in terms of larger shortfalls in future years."
Williams said that closing this year’s budget deficit is an attainable goal – one that he, too, hopes to reach not with new taxes, but by streamlining government.
For WNPR, I’m Jeff Cohen.