Analysts: Lamont, lawmakers face $4.3 billion gap in next two-year Connecticut budget

State officials are facing almost $4.3 billion in red ink in the next two-year budget, due largely to the coronavirus-induced recession, according to a new report Friday from nonpartisan analysts. Those deficits, while daunting, are significantly less imposing than the massive shortfalls Connecticut faced after the last recession in 2011 — gaps that forced a record-setting tax hike of nearly $1.9 billion nine years ago. But Gov. Ned Lamont, who must propose his next biennial budget to legislators in February, has nearly $3.1 billion in reserve. And while nonpartisan analysts estimate $854 million of that cushion will be gone by July — to close a deficit in the current budget — that still leaves Lamont more than $2.1 billion to mitigate the red ink to come. Lamont already has said he is optimistic the next two-year budget can be balanced without any major tax hikes, particularly if President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration and Congress send another round of federal relief to states early in 2021 as promised. Nonpartisan analysts also warned Friday in their report that the state budget’s Special Transportation Fund — already reeling from two consecutive years of legislators refusing to enact tolls — is set to run out of cash in 2024.

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