Nardello Says Budget Surplus Should Eliminate Electricity Tax

By Christine Stuart

The competitive transmission assessment tax set up to recover the stranded costs from deregulation of the electricity market was set to expire last year when lawmakers figured out they needed a source of revenue to pay back the close to $1 billion in borrowing they needed to balance the budget. So instead of sunsetting the charge, which averages between $2 and $3 per month on electrical bills, the legislature continued the charge on Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating customers.

“We’re looking at the numbers and clearly April 30 is the drop dead date in terms of knowing what our revenues are,” Nardello said Tuesday at a press conference. “I know the governor is committed to trying to remove that, the Finance Committee members are committed to trying to remove that and the Energy Committee is committed to trying to remove that.”

“We just have to work out the numbers as they say. It is definitely a goal,” Nardello added.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Budget Director Ben Barnes said if the state didn’t have to borrow $646 million to balance this year’s budget that would be “an extraordinarily good result.” The amount has been lowered from the close to $1 billion the state thought it would have to borrow last year when it passed the budget.

But Barnes was a little more skeptical the numbers would erase the entire need to borrow and identify a revenue source to pay back the money.

He said the numbers from this months tax deadline will be in shortly, but his office won’t be producing the consensus revenue estimates until later this month. He said he’s hopeful there will be money to first keep the annual $28.7 million it planned on taking from the Energy Efficiency Fund over the next eight years, and secondly reduce the amount of money it will need from consumers.

“We hope there’s enough money for both,” Barnes told CTNewsjunkie Tuesday.

The state Treasurer’s office has confirmed that the state has not gone out to borrow the Economic Recovery Notes and a lawsuit challenging the legality of the continuation of the tax is still pending with the state Supreme Court.

Republicans lawmakers have argued that any surplus the state experiences this year should be used to lower the close to $1.5 billion tax package that’s part of the budget.

But Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders have maintained that any surplus from this year will be used to pay down the amount of borrowing the state needs to do.