When policy and management secretaries attack

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes – the state’s budget czar – is out with a scathing rebuttal to the GOP’s alternative state budget plan.

You can read it below.


Barnes, who has had a long professional relationship with Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, is proving to be far more combative in his role than mild-mannered predecessor Robert “Bob” Genuario.


Remember last month when Barnes dressed down a major credit agency for downgrading the state’s rating?

Genuario worked for Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and is now a judge in Stamford. Sure he’d come to her defense. But it was not unusual during an interview for Genuario to make a comment critical of legislative Democrats, only to seconds later decide he didn’t want it publicized or wanted to choose his words more carefully. He wasn’t keen on playing the partisan attack dog.

Barnes clearly doesn’t mind getting down and dirty.

-Angry Genuario

-Angry Barnes

Here’s Barnes’ statement on the GOP proposal:

“For 16 years under Republican governors, Rep. Cafero and Sen. McKinney held exactly zero press conferences to highlight the financial games the governors from their party were playing.  Zero.  If they’d spoken up then, they’d have more credibility now. 

Governor Malloy has spent his first 13 months in office trying to clean up the mess from those 16 years, and he has made substantial progress.  But the hole they dug was deep, so there’s more cleaning up to do.  And this Administration is committed to doing it.

Every budget submitted over the decade before Governor Malloy took office showed deficits in the out-years.  For reasons only the Republican leadership can explain, Governor Malloy is being held to a higher standard than his predecessors.  We appreciate Senator McKinney’s confidence.

The 5.7% growth rate cited by Senator McKinney is for growth in our tax base, not overall economic growth.  Economic growth in Connecticut’s tax base is always greater than growth in the overall economy when the economy is growing, and lower than the overall economy during downturns.  For instance, in 2009 our tax base shrunk by 11%, according to the date data provided today by the Republicans.  If our economy had shrunk that much we would have 30% unemployment.  Sen. McKinney and Rep. Cafero have been around a long time.  They should know better.

The Governor’s budgets have average growth that is 10% lower than the spending under Governor Rell and almost 20% lower than under Rowland.  Our growth projections are 3.8%, compared to 4.5% and 4.8% respectively under the two previous Republican Administrations. 

The Republicans are constantly looking for ways to say Connecticut isn’t doing well. They should instead note how much we’ve accomplished in little more than a year and so help make us more attractive to people and businesses from elsewhere.

The budget is under the spending cap because of almost $120 million in cuts.  If the Republicans have other specific cuts they wish to offer, they should communicate those to us and to the Appropriations Committee. They can start with identifying cuts to pay for the new spending they propose.”

Brian Lockhart