DANBURY -- The state's budget chief reiterated Thursday the governor's call for no tax increases and smaller government to deal with the looming budget deficit.
, secretary of the
Office of Policy and Management
, spoke about the financial challenges facing the state before a packed house during the
Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce
's annual Eggs and Issues Breakfast.
"The challenges are great, but we have high expectations in Bob (Genuario) to restore the financial stability of the state," said
, president of the chamber's board of directors. "It's easy to raise taxes. The hard thing to do is look for waste and inefficiencies."
Other speakers noted the state's projected deficit through the next two years -- estimates range from $6 to $8 billion -- is significantly higher than the $900 million deficit the state faced in the early 1990s, when the income tax was inplemented.
Genuario, however, stressed that the governor is committed to tackling the revenue shortfall issue by cutting spending and reducing the size of the state government instead of increasing taxes.
"The governor realizes that the reason why revenue is down is because people are not making as much," he said. "She feels strongly that the time to raise taxes is not when people are hurting the most."
Instead, he said, the governor has proposed eliminating about a dozen state commissions and consolidating about 15 state agencies.
"We are trying to downsize the state government to get the structure to a more affordable level," Genuario said.
At least one member of the audience questioned what the state is doing to bring more jobs to Connecticut.
of Bethel, with Euro Construction, said he's heard a lot about what the state plans to do about the budget deficit but nothing about bringing more jobs to the state.
"What will Connecticut do to create more jobs?" Herczeg asked. "More jobs will mean more taxes."
Genuario said few economic development programs are being affected by the governor's proposed spending cuts. He added that her proposal to not raise business taxes could also help attract more companies to the state.
Other nearby states, including New York and New Jersey, will likely have to increase their business taxes to deal with their budget woes, he said.
"If other states raise their taxes and we don't, that will make us more competitive," Genuario said.
, vice president of finance for Ability Beyond Disability in Bethel, said reforming the way the state pays for services for the disabled could help solve the budget crisis.
Currently, she said, the disparity in employee costs between state-operated services and those operated by nonprofits is 50 to 70 percent.
"There is a waste of having two management structures for the same system," she said. "The state takes care of about 20 percent of the population, with about 50 percent of available funds. The nonprofits take care of the other 80 percent of the population with the same amount of funding."
Genuario said Pasqualini is correct. That is an area where the state could see significant savings.
"I agree with everything you said," he said. "There is a disparity. Changes in that have been hard to come by."
Contact Dirk Perrefort
at email@example.com or at (203) 731-3358.