Gov. Dannel Malloy delivered what could be viewed as a stump speech at a May 9 Bridgeport Regional Business Council event. Given that he recently announced he won’t see a third term as governor, however, it served as something of a valedictory address.
The event, held at the Trumbull Marriott, drew about 200 people who gave the governor a polite – if somewhat restrained – welcome.
Noting that past editions of the BRBC’s annual “Capitol Luncheon” have included various state legislators, Malloy said they were absent at this year’s event as they continued to wrestle with “the 800-pound gorilla” that is the budget process. Malloy said he would be going directly back to Hartford following his nearly hour-long presentation.
The governor said that Connecticut’s long-term financial obligations to state employees remain a key problem, with 82 cents of every dollar the state collects going to pensions. Still, he said, he has striven to corral government spending, with an average increase of 2 percent per year as compared with the annual 4.8 percent that his predecessor, Jodi Rell, approved.
Going unaddressed was Malloy’s plan to shift $400 million in teacher pension costs to municipalities. Currently, cities and towns pay nothing toward this benefit.
In January, Malloy said that nearly $850 million was cut to bring the current fiscal year in balance; the number of state agencies reduced by 28 percent; the executive branch workforce cut by 9.5 percent; the number of state management positions by 28 percent; and overtime costs by 14.5 percent, saving the state $37 million.
“State government is 13 percent smaller since I became governor” in 2011, he said.
He told the crowd that neighbors such as Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island “have all seen substantial reductions in anticipated revenue this year,” in an effort to refute claims that the Nutmeg State’s financial problems are unique.
“This is the state where the glass that is half empty was invented,” he said.
The governor noted that transportation “has been woefully, inadequately funded for literally 40 years. We need to make big investments” in transportation, he said, saying that the proposed reinstitution of highway tolls “is a legitimate question to look at.” Twenty years from now, some 50 to 60 percent of automobiles will no longer use fossil fuels as their primary propellant, he said, meaning that the gas tax will become progressively less important as a funding source.
Malloy touted such achievements as keeping Sikorsky in Stratford and working with Electric Boat, United Technologies and Pratt & Whitney to expand their presence in Connecticut as key events during his tenure – not just for those companies themselves but also “for the large supply chains that feed those three” from every corner of the state.
He regretted the loss of General Electric in Fairfield, he said, but indicated that the loss of about 200 jobs was offset by the roughly 1,800 small businesses that have been created and received state support during his tenure. He also said that the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development had invested in more than 2,300 businesses over the past six years. “For the six years before I became governor, it was about 200,” he said.
Malloy also gave a keynote speech celebrating small business at The Business Council of Fairfield County’s spring luncheon at the Stamford Marriott Hotel on May 10.
Noting that he planned on submitting a redrafted budget on May 12 and that he had asked state Democrats and Republicans to each do the same, Malloy said the aim was “to address some of our long-term problems in a way that allows us to live within our current means.”
The challenge, the governor said, is that “everyone wants government to spend more money and raise less money.”