Looney talks possible run for governor
Democratic state Senate Pro Tempore laid out what would have to unfold to make that a reality.
NEW HAVEN >> This scenario invoves a lot of variables.
In a field expected to be crowded for both parties, will Democratic state Senate Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney of New Haven run for governor?
Looney, in a discussion with the New Haven Register editorial board, laid out what would have to unfold to make that a reality.
First, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would have to leave office in the next few months. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman would them become govenor and Looney would leave the state Senate to become lieutenant governor.
If Wyman ultimately decided not to run for govenor, “I would certainly run at that point under those circumstances,” Looney said.
“I think the key thing is people are waiting to hear the lieutenant governor’s plans. That will impact quite a few people in their planning,” Looney said.
One other factor: Malloy, after announcing this month that he will not seek a third term, said he has every intention of remaining in office for the next 18 months and, no, Looney has not run this scenario past him.
The Senate leader said this is the one circumstance he currently can identify in which he would run.
“Other circumstances, I do not know yet,” he said.
Beyond a short contemplation on the possibility of higher office, the majority of Looney’s discussion was about the state budget, taxes, teacher pensions and legalizing marijuana.
He also put the odds at 50-50 on finishing the legislative session before lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn June 7.
“I think we have a better than average chance of getting a budget before the end of the fiscal year. But if we go beyond July 1, it will be open-ended as far as how long it will take,” Looney said.
On recreational marijuana, the issue did not get a vote in the Judiciary Committee, but it is a fully developed bill with a public hearing and Looney would not rule out including it in the final budget or the budget implementer.
“It will come at the point where we would have to close the deal on the last $100 million in the budget,” Looney speculated.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized it, with Colorado, the first state to do so, realizing more than $100 million in annual revenue. Closer to home, Massachusetts has joined the group, with legalization set for 2018.
“We have to recognize that marijuana has been and will continue to be available — legal or not. The experiment with prohibition should have taught us a lesson that we apparently never learned,” Looney said.
The issue, has split lawmakers and Malloy does not favor legalization. The public, however, in a 2015 Quinnipiac poll, favored legalization of small amounts for adults by 63 percent.
The bottom line is how to deal with a projected $1.7 billion deficit in fiscal 2017-18 and the $1.9 billion deficit anticipated in fiscal 2018-19.
Looney said the proposals sent to lawmakers by Malloy on sharing the cost of teachers pensions with the towns; revisions to the Educational Cost Sharing grant; and his proposed tax on hospital real estate all will be modified.
Malloy hopes to address $700 million of the $1.7 billion through union concessions and $407 million if the towns pick up one-third of the cost of teacher retirement benefits.
The last piece involves the hospitals, with Malloy proposing towns be allowed to tax the property and buildings of hospitals within their borders, which the administration estimates will cost them about $212 million.