Gov. Malloy: Connecticut Has to ‘Take a Different Path’
As chief executive, Governor Malloy has proposed a state budget that addresses Connecticut’s severe fiscal crisis. As chief exhorter today at Connecticut Business Day, he urged 500 business leaders to help him push that plan over the legislative finish line.
Governor Malloy told the Business Day audience in the state Legislative Office Building that Connecticut has to “decide to go in a different direction” than the decades-long mistakes and indecisions that led to steep fiscal problems, no job growth and struggling economy.
The event was sponsored by CBIA and the Connecticut Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
“For 22 years we have failed to create jobs, our spending has been out of control and we have not made critical infrastructure investments” in transportation and education, said the governor.
“I have chosen a different path” said Gov. Malloy, “to confront what’s wrong with Connecticut.”
His path includes tax increases, state employee concessions and spending reductions to plug the state’s $3.2 billion budget gap. He acknowledged wryly that “there’s something for everyone to hate” in his budget.
Back to jobs
However, Gov. Malloy pitched his budget proposal as an “honest and transparent” one that will enable Connecticut to live within its means and set the course back to job growth. He included critically needed investments in housing, transportation and education and a “major overhaul” in how state government operates.
He said that discussions with state employee unions to achieve the critically important $2 billion in concessions are now being conducted and he is very hopeful of success. “To not succeed,” he said, “is unimaginable.”
Sooner than later
In another break from standard operating procedure at the Capitol, Governor Malloy is urging passage of the new budget “by May, not by July, August or September.”
The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 8 and in many recent years there have either been 11th-hour budget deals at adjournment or special sessions throughout the summer to get the work done. Getting there will be difficult and means that there “can be no sacred cows” he said.
Part of moving the plan over the goal line, said Malloy, is for business leaders to convey to state legislators, “that you get the big picture” of what needs to be done to solve the budget crisis and get Connecticut’s economy moving again.
Also exhorting Business Day participants to push the case for fiscal responsibility were Senate Republican Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) and House Republican Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk).
Cafero said he and his caucus are committed to working with the governor. “Unless the governor succeeds,” he said, “we will not succeed.”
He said that Connecticut businesses have been making “daily sacrifices” throughout the recession—in lost business and profits, in facing steeply higher business costs, and in having to cut back on their employees’ hours or even let them go altogether.
It is time, he said, for government to make sacrifices—but he believes that’s not clear in the governor’s budget proposal. Cafero said the budget actually increases state spending and doesn’t reduce the size or scope of state government.
“What do we have to do? We have to cut spending, because the more you spend the more you have to tax.”
McKinney said a big problem in the General Assembly was lawmakers’ failure to follow through on campaign promises.
“You can’t say you’re pro-business, pro-jobs and also be for a proposal to make Connecticut the first state in the nation to pass mandatory paid sick leave,” he said.
And those who believe Connecticut needs to have economic and tax policies good enough to compete just with neighboring states such as New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are missing the point: “We are competing with South Carolina, China, Mexico and the rest of the world for jobs.”
That, he added, should give lawmakers the inspiration “to do the right thing to convince others to come here” by avoiding making bad policy decisions.
And that means, McKinney told business leaders, that they “have to be active [at the State Capitol] every single day. You can’t give up demanding change.”
— Dave Conrad
Dave Conrad is a writer-editor at CBIA. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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