STATE SEN. MARKLEY v. OPM SECRETARY BARNES: A SCUFFLE IN THE MEDIA

Give this to the Malloy administration—when attacked in the media, it will respond in kind. The latest skirmish was started by gadfly state Sen. Joseph MarKley (R-Southington). Markley challenged Malloy Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes to “show me the math” to support the administration’s claim that it will stay under the state bonding cap. Markley issued the challenge in a letter to Barnes, released to reporters. Barnes responded by issuing a statement to the media questioning Markley’s ability to understand the issues involved.

Marley is a frequent guest on local talk radio and political shows, often lobbing verbal bombs. For the most part, the Malloy administration flies higher above Markley’s rhetoric. However in this case, the Southington Republican pushed Barnes’ buttons. The Shad can’t remember a time when the OPM secretary responded to criticism with a statement to the media.

At issue is whether the administration will be able to stay under the bonding cap. Markley wrote, in part, “The numbers just don’t add up”…I am concerned the Governor’s publicly stated ‘soft’ bond cap of $1.4 billion will be disregarded. There are a lot of general obligation requests out there. The temptation to break the cap will be great, but doing so would be disastrous. Taxpayers would pay dearly if Connecticut were to be downgraded by the credit rating agencies.”

Markley’s reference to the credit agencies seemed to particularly aggravate Barnes. In his response, Barnes said, ““Senator Markley is having trouble understanding something that the Governor and I have made clear time and time again. I’ll say it once more, as simply as I can: under this administration, Connecticut is not going to exceed its spending cap or its bonding cap. Period.” He went on to say, “I would suggest to Senator Markley that rather than offering knee-jerk opposition to anything and everything the Governor does, rather than recklessly talking about debt downgrades in order to score political points, that he instead join us in creating a more financially stable and economically vibrant future.” Wow.

We haven’t heard the last of this.