OSC Letterhead

March 1, 2017

The Honorable Dannel P. Malloy
Governor of the State of Connecticut
State Capitol
Hartford, Connecticut

Dear Governor Malloy:

I write to provide you with financial statements for the General Fund and the Transportation Fund through January 31, 2017.

The Office of Policy and Management (OPM) is projecting that the General Fund will end Fiscal Year 2017 operations with a surplus of $22.9 million, which is nearly the same as last month's projections. There is a minor spending adjustment of $0.4 million from last month that has lowered the General Fund surplus by that amount. The Transportation Fund is projected to end Fiscal Year 2017 with a balance of $125.3 million, after accounting for the Fiscal Year 2016 retained balance in the fund of $142.8 million. This represents an erosion of $17.5 million dollars through operations in this fiscal year.

Based on my analysis of current spending and revenue patterns, I am projecting a General Fund surplus of approximately $11.8 million this fiscal year. My variance from OPM is due to anticipated higher spending in the adjudicated claims account. OPM has estimated claims expenditures to be $12.5 million in the current fiscal year; I am projecting outlays of $23.6 million, which is $11.1 million higher than OPM, if settlement payments are not delayed. Continued active budget management will be required to keep the General Fund budget in balance. I am in agreement with OPM’s Transportation Fund projections.

This letter reflects the January 17th consensus revenue figures that were agreed to by OPM and the Office of Fiscal Analysis. Based on those General Fund projections, the most significant revenue shortfalls from the original Fiscal Year 2017 budget plan are in the income tax (down $81.5 million) and the sales tax (down $79.3 million). The largest tax revenue gain from the initial budget target is in the corporation tax (up $80 million). Actual receipts for the corporation tax were stronger than anticipated for the first two quarters of Fiscal Year 2017. The miscellaneous revenue category has grown by $111.5 million this fiscal year largely due to one-time settlement payments made to the state. Overall General Fund revenue for Fiscal Year 2017 exceeds the budget plan by $10.8 million. A complete analysis of General Fund revenue changes for Fiscal Year 2017 is presented on Exhibit C to this letter.

I am concerned that the January consensus forecast relies on strong April income tax receipts. Estimated income tax payments through January were below last fiscal year’s receipts. Typically, final April payments trend in the same direction as estimated payments. However because of stock market corrections and subdued bonus payments in the 2015 tax year, a large number of taxpayers may be eligible to utilize safe harbor provisions of the tax code. The safe harbor provisions allow taxpayers to delay the payment of their full 2016 tax liability until April of 2017 (rather than incorporating the payment into their 4th quarter 2016 estimated payments).

This would help to explain why estimated payments remain negative despite a strong stock market run-up in the final months of the 2016 tax year. As I noted last month, in addition to the uncertainty with respect to final income tax payments in April, the growth in the payroll driven withholding portion of the income tax has been slowing. Therefore, income tax receipts remain a significant risk factor to the small surplus projections.

OPM is currently estimating that General Fund expenditures will exceed the budget by a net of $10.6 million. Because of my higher adjudicated claims estimate as discussed above, I am assuming spending will exceed the budget plan by a net of $21.7 million.

Connecticut's overall budget performance is ultimately dependent upon the performance of the national and state economies. The January labor situation report for Connecticut will not be released by the Department of Labor until March 10th. Therefore, we continue to report the December labor data.

Preliminary Connecticut nonfarm job estimates from the business establishment survey administered by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show the state lost 1,700 payroll jobs in December 2016 to a level of 1,678,000, seasonally adjusted. It should be noted that while the establishment survey has been showing deterioration in the Connecticut job market in several months of 2016, the household census survey used to calculate the unemployment rate has been pointing to job gains throughout 2016. The establishment survey on job growth is benchmarked annually. Connecticut has experienced some significant adjustments to these statistics in past years. The benchmarked employment figures will be available in mid-March. The state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent in December.

Connecticut ranked eleventh nationally in income growth for the third quarter of 2016 based on personal income statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on December 20th. The state’s personal income was growing at an annualized 4.9 percent rate in the third quarter of the year. This growth rate exceeds that of the prior year. Fourth quarter results will be released on March 28th.

According to a February 22nd release from CT Realtors, Connecticut single-family residential home sales increased 14.2 percent in January 2017 from the same month a year earlier. The median sale price also posted an increase of 2.2 percent to $235,000. Connecticut has been in a sustained period of sales volume gains since 2012; however, prices have only recently rebounded.

According to the February 28th estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, GDP in the 4th quarter of 2016 grew at a 1.9 percent annual rate. The growth rate in the 3rd quarter was 3.5 percent.

I also issue a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) as an accounting supplement to the budgetary report. The CAFR includes financial statements for all state funds and component units prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). From a balance sheet perspective, the GAAP unassigned fund balance in the General Fund was a negative $998.9 million as of June 30, 2016.

Sincerely,

Kevin Lembo
State Comptroller

To view the data in Excel format, click here:
General Fund: A-D Transportation Fund: E-H

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