Republican gubernatorial contenders seized on a cautionary note from a bond rating agency this week about Connecticut’s credit card, calling it Wall Street’s response to new criticisms of the state’s finances.

The problem, though, is the note released by Fitch Ratings Service isn’t new.

Fitch attached a “negative outlook” — effectively a cautionary commentary — to the healthy AA rating it placed on general obligation bonds issued by the state, noting Connecticut’s high debt levels.

Sen. John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, called the negative outlook “predictable” given that last week Gov. Dannel P. Malloy hit his $1.8 billion bonding limit for the calendar year by October — and that limit was 28 percent higher than last year’s.

Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said more borrowing “could further deteriorate our bonding rating” and “with Fitch’s reaffirmation of our previous rating, that prediction came true.”

But the rating and outlook Fitch released this week match the ones it gave Connecticut when the fiscal year began in July.

“The only thing that’s completely predictable is the tired, old Republican playbook,” Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba said, adding that Connecticut has less bonded debt now than when Malloy took office in January 2011.  “They are so desperate to paint a negative picture of the state they will take literally any occasion to bring out the same old tired talking points.”

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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