COMPTROLLER LEMBO, IN EARLY REPORT ON FISCAL YEAR 2020 BUDGET, PROJECTS $126.1-MILLION SURPLUS
Contact: Tara Downes
Comptroller Kevin Lembo today, while cautioning that it is premature in the fiscal year, issued his first monthly projection of the year on Fiscal Year 2020, reporting that the state is on track for a $126.1-million surplus.
Fiscal Year 2019 year-end adjustments are still being processed and could have a significant impact on the final operating results for that year. Lembo said he expects to issue his preliminary reporting of unaudited operating results for Fiscal Year 2019 on Sept. 30.
In a letter to Gov. Ned Lamont, Lembo said he is in agreement with the state Office of Policy and Management’s (OPM) most recent outlook report, which is a $15 million decrease from the initial budget plan due to a deficiency in the non-appropriated adjudicated claims account.
“Our early surplus projection for Fiscal Year 2020 should be treated with cautious optimism, because while there are positive early trends, they are just that – early,” Lembo said. “It should also be noted that Connecticut’s budget results are ultimately dependent upon the performance of the national and state economies. For now, economic indicators for the national and state economies are sending mixed messages, with some positive movement on income tax revenue and home price appreciation among lower-price tiers – but also some trends in the bond market that could be recession indicators.
“Connecticut may be unable to control for volatility in the global financial markets or the U.S. trade war with China, but it can act to prepare financially for what may come,” Lembo said. “The state is closer and closer to achieving a financial milestone in building an adequate Budget Reserve Fund, and must continue to exercise financial discipline in this area.”
Lembo advocated for legislation that now requires the state to be more disciplined in setting aside unanticipated revenue windfalls to protect the state against future recessions so that tax increases and program cuts can be minimized or avoided during economic recessions.
The Budget Reserve Fund (BRF) legislation that Lembo advocated for, also referred to as the revenue volatility cap, requires that revenues above a certain threshold be transferred to the Budget Reserve Fund. The status of that policy is:
“In order to help protect against future economic downturns, Connecticut must maintain financial discipline and continue building the Budget Reserve Fund balance to the statutory target of 15 percent,” Lembo said.
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