While most of the capitol was focused on the Banks Committee’s hearing on the AIG bonuses today, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and state budget czar Robert Genuario of Norwalk slipped out a significant press release.
The two announced that they now believe state revenues have deteriorated to the point the projected budget deficit for the 2009-10/2010-11 fiscal years is $7.39 billion, not $6 billion.
On a quieter news day this would have been big, since anyone paying attention to the budget process knows Democrats for months have accused the Rell administration of low-balling the size of the deficit to score political points.
1. Rell and Genuario early in the year say the deficit is likely nearing $8 billion.
2. On Feb. 4 Rell proposes a balanced, no-tax-increase two-year budget that accounts for a $6 billion deficit.
3. State’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis comes out with a projected deficit of $8.7 billion.
4. Legislature’s Democratic-majority cries foul, arguing Rell and Genuario low-balled the number so they could leave the drastic cuts and tax hikes to the other side of the aisle.
5. Genuario shoulders the blame, saying he made a mistake and it was repeated by Rell in the run-up to her budget address and $6 billion is the true deficit.
6. Repeat 1 through 5 a few times in press releases, interviews and news reports.
7. Legislature’s Republican Minority holds budget forums using $8.7 billion number.
8. Dems say “Aha Governor!!! You Have No Clothes!!!”
9. Rell and Republicans tell Democrats to stop gripin’ about the size of the deficit and just propose SOMETHING that starts to deal with it.
Which leads to today. In the press release announcing a new deficit projection of $7.3 billion, Genuario states: “Frankly these revenue deteriorations are not altogether surprising given the worsening national economy and steep drop in almost every leading economic indicator over the last two months.”
He concludes: “While the numbers are deeply concerning, we still believe that our two year projected deficit will be FAR BELOW (emphasis mine) that projected by the Office of Fiscal Analysis.”
The Office of Fiscal Analysis issued a statement its staff will meet Genuario and his gang outside behind the capitol by the flag pole when the bell rings. And NO CALCULATORS ALLOWED. Or brass knuckles.