Connecticut's economy growing at faster pace
Hartford (AP) — Connecticut's financial picture appears to be brightening somewhat, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget director told state lawmakers Tuesday.
The state's economy is "growing at a much faster pace than it has (over) the last eight years," Ben Barnes, Office of Policy and Management secretary, told the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee. The news comes as Malloy prepares to leave office in January.
A new consensus revenue report released Tuesday shows gradual, projected declines in some other state revenues, including payments from the tribal casinos and the cigarette tax. However, there's a gradual projected increase in revenue for the state's main transportation account over the next several fiscal years.
Barnes' remarks Tuesday came during a presentation on state agency mid-year budget shortfalls. His office is projecting a nearly $70 million overall shortfall, which includes increased overtime costs at the Departments of Correction and Emergency Services and Public Protection, due to low staffing levels and other factors.
Within the correction department, there are currently 955 sworn state police troopers. Connecticut previously had a minimum staffing level of 1,248 troopers, a threshold eliminated in 2012.
Meanwhile, the state's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported a nearly $400,000 budget shortfall, noting how the agency's caseload continues to grow. Drug deaths increased 290 percent from 2012 to 2017. During that same time period, cremations increased by 26 percent, and autopsies increased by 70 percent.