Malloy’s budget exceeds the spending cap, but it would be under the cap only if he’s successful in changing the cap’s definition.
State Sen. Joseph Markley, one of the most conservative senators on fiscal matters, says there’s no way that he will support changing the definition.
“Over the years, many things have come out from under the spending cap, but nothing has been put in,’’ Markley told Capitol Watch. “If you keep changing what’s under it, then we’ve got no benchmark. It should have been sacrosanct to say what’s counted under the spending cap in 1991 or 1992 is what the spending cap is.’’
Despite both being students of the spending cap, Markley said he has never discussed the issue with state Sen. Joan Hartley, a conservative Democrat from Waterbury. Hartley is among the key senators in the behind-the-scenes battle over whether all 22 Democratic senators will support Malloy on the issue.
“I sit next to Joan, but it’s never come up,’’ Markley told Capitol Watch.
Hartley says she has not yet agreed to the change in the cap. In addition, Sen. Paul Doyle, a Democratic swing voter from Wethersfield, reiterated Wednesday that he was still undecided and that his position had not changed from the previous day.
“I’m trying to do a quick-study on the budget. … I’m learning,” said Doyle, a veteran Democrat who has served at the Capitol since 1995. ”I’ve never served on either committee” on the budget-writing appropriations committee or the tax-writing finance committee.
Markley’s view on the issue dates back two decades.
“The income tax, which I think was a mistake, really would never have gone through if there hadn’t been this promise made that henceforth we’re going to abide by the spending cap,’’ Markley said. “That’s the deal we made. What did the people get? They got the hand in a new pocket, but they didn’t get the fiscal discipline that was guaranteed to go along with it. You only got the income tax because you got the spending cap.’’
Markley added, “The answer is: Don’t trust the government on fiscal matters when they feel their back is against the wall.’’
Sen. Robert Duff, a Norwalk Democrat who is known as a swing voter, is supporting Malloy on changing the cap.
Senate Republican leader John McKinney said that none of the 14 Republican senators are supporting Malloy on changing the definition.
“I’m not closed to the idea of ever changing the definition,” McKinney said, “but I’m not in support of what they’ve proposed.”