- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday ordered $13.7 million in additional mid-year budget cuts to combat a stubborn, current fiscal-year deficit that continues to grow.

The Democrat sent a letter to the leaders of the General Assembly’s budget-writing committee, providing them a list of cuts he is making to executive branch agencies and higher education. The reductions range from $11,647 at the Office of Higher Education to $5.8 million at the Office of Early Childhood.

Malloy did not request similar cuts in legislative or judicial branch spending.

This marks the third time since his re-election in November that Malloy has been forced to use his limited authority to make mid-year reductions. His budget director, Ben Barnes, has warned the deficit could further worsen depending on final tax collections.

“As we have assured Connecticut residents, we will make the difficult but necessary decisions to keep our budget in balance,” Barnes said. “That said, the April tax receipts will determine whether further action is needed.”

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said he fears Malloy will ultimately have to tap the state’s Rainy Day Fund to balance this year’s budget. He said Wednesday’s cuts show Malloy, who on Monday instituted a ban on state travel to Indiana over its religious-objection measure, has “run out of options.”

“This is what happens when you have a governor who is trying to raise his national profile instead of focusing on the issues here at home,” Fasano said. “Governor Malloy’s hesitation has led to devastation.”

On Wednesday, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, a Democrat, projected that Connecticut’s general fund - the state’s main spending account - will end the current fiscal year on June 30 nearly $173 million in deficit, though the latest cuts are not factored into that projection.

The $173 million figure marks a $40 million increase from the deficit projection reported by Malloy’s budget office last month. The legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis recently projected the deficit at $191 million.

In a letter to Malloy, Lembo warned how his deficit projection is just shy of triggering a mandatory deficit mitigation plan the governor would have to present to the legislature.

“Because my current estimate is so close to the mitigation trigger and only three months remain in the fiscal year, I recommend that deficit reduction planning with the legislature should proceed without delay,” Lembo said.

A mitigation plan from the governor is required when the deficit reaches one percent of total appropriations.

“If it proves to be the case that we have to do deficit mitigation,” Barnes said, “it will be part of the end-of-session budget negotiations.”

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