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Comptroller says Rowland's Budget Threatens Connecticut's Fiscal Health

Contact: Steve Jensen
860-702-3308 or 860-702-3301

State Comptroller Nancy Wyman's office today expressed alarm over the growth in debt spending outlined Wednesday in the Governor's budget proposal for fiscal year 1999.

While Connecticut already has the highest per-capita debt load in the nation, the governor's proposal would increase bond authorizations by nearly 30 percent - hiking the total to to $1.3 billion for the next fiscal year.

"The governor claims to be holding the line on spending, but he is continuing to run up the state's credit card bill in the form of bonded debt," Deputy Comptroller Mark Ojakian said. "Comptroller Wyman is very concerned that higher debt is a burden that falls directly on the shoulders of current and future taxpayers. This budget would essentially mortgage our children's future and stick them with the bill for these programs."

To pay off the state's current debt, every man, woman and child in Connecticut would have to pay $2,774. This level of debt threatens to undermine our long-term fiscal stability.

In a fiscal report card accompanying Wyman's recently-published annual Comptroller's Report: Connecticut's Economic Health, she gave a D to the state's overall debt position. The governor's proposal would drop that to a failing F.

Ojakian said Wyman also was pleased that the governor has adopted her tax rebate plan, which she first proposed last year and recently submitted to the legislature.

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," Ojakian said. "We are glad the Governor recognizes a good idea when he hears about it."

But Ojakian said the rebate plan proposed Wednesday by the Governor does not do enough to address permanent tax relief and the state's long-term financial stability.

Wyman's plan, in the first year, would use the state's projected $225 million surplus to fill the state's emergency Rainy Day Fund and issue rebates to individual taxpayers. If the plan were enacted this year, the Rainy Day Fund would be filled and every taxpayer in the state would receive a rebate of about $100.

In subsequent years, rebates would be distributed from 90 percent of the surplus, with the remaining 10 percent going to decrease state debt.

The Governor's plan would leave the Rainy Day Fund nearly $104 million short of its statutory target and increase, rather than reduce, the state's debt. Wyman's plan also would be a permanent tax relief system, rather than a one-time rebate.

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For Immediate Release
January 29, 1998

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