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Business Experts Advise Lamont On Fixing Conn. Budget

Connecticut lawmakers chose leaders on key issues at the capitol in Hartford.
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The Connecticut Capitol Building in Hartford

As early as this week, Connecticut Governor-elect Ned Lamont is expected to announce some key appointments to his administration including his budget director. In the meantime, a panel of business executives has offered Lamont a blueprint to help fix the state’s budget deficit and grow the economy.

The plan is an updated version of what the 14-member Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth Commission gave to outgoing Governor Dannel Malloy and the state General Assembly earlier this year. Bob Patricelli, a former healthcare industry executive who’s a co-chair of the panel, said reducing the state’s operating expenses and broadening sales tax collection would reduce Connecticut’s nearly $2 billion projected budget deficit by half.

“This is going to be a long and difficult process. It won’t produce a billion in the first year. But it needs to be undertaken and it’s doable,” Patricelli said.

That’s a position supported by UConn economist Fred Carstensen.

“The sales tax is collecting $220 less now than it did five years ago. What’s been happening is that we’ve actually been undermining the capacity of the sales tax to raise revenue. Yes, we raised the rates. But we applied it to a smaller and smaller share of total consumption.”

The panel is also proposing stopping the growth of state employee wages and benefits and increasing state employee and teacher contributions to their pension plans.

That proposal is not supported by the state employee unions.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
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