Sen. Looney: Spending Cap is the Problem, Adjustments being Analyzed

As the state legislature grapples with the budget proposed by Gov. Dan Malloy, Senate President Marty Looney says even if they did raise taxes—and it’s certainly not a foregone conclusion—they’d be unable to spend the revenue because of the state spending cap. He reiterated “everything is on the table.”

Looney says there have been no discussions as of yet to raise taxes. “Because of the spending cap, even if we do have extra revenue, we can’t spend it.”

Looney says the constitutionally mandated spending cap needs to be analyzed because its constraints are holding back what needs to be done. “We are looking at every option,” Looney said. “To change the spending cap, it takes a super-majority—22 votes in the Senate and 91 votes in the House. So we’d have to have a bipartisan agreement [to change the cap].”

Much has been of Malloy’s budget proposal with Republicans saying he simply dumped all the problems in the legislature’s lap. “The governor did exactly what he said he would do in the campaign—present a budget that is balanced and contains no new taxes,” Looney said.

Looney compared the budget process to a relay race. “The governor runs the first leg, passes the baton to the [Appropriations and Finance] committees, then negotiations with the governor’s people and hopefully we can it across the finish line.”

The legislature is in a tough spot as every day seems to being a new outrage over a particular cut the governor made in his proposal. For instance, Looney and his fellow Senate Democrats want to restore funding for honor guards at the funeral of veterans.

Looney has also floated the idea of allowing cities and towns to raise revenue through a minimal sales tax in addition to the state sales tax.

Looney has long been considered an expert on budgeting and the state’s finances having been a longtime chairman of the Finance Committee.