Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dan Malloy Says He'll Herd the Cats in Hartford

Driving in from Stamford, Dan Malloy must have gotten up even earlier than I did to get to the chamber coffee at 8 a.m. today. He was pretty sympathetic about Bristol being without highway access and made his pitch for the governor's post. He was the first in a series of candidates who are expected to come to Bristol to meet the chamber folks in an informal setting. Here's what I wrote about it for Friday's edition of The Bristol Press (

BRISTOL – Declaring that state government is “badly broken,” former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy said he wants the job of fixing it.
“People have run away from the fire and I’m running to it,” said Malloy, a Democrat seeking his party’s nomination for governor.
“This is a bi-partisan train wreck we have,” said Malloy, blaming both Democrats and Republicans for Connecticut’s economic woes. “There has been no fiscal discipline in this state.”
Malloy, who spoke to the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce Thursday, said as governor, he would concentrate on creating jobs, something he said he did in Stamford.
“You can build the economy,” said Malloy.
Malloy, 54, is the first of the candidates for governor to address an informal gathering at the chamber office, but he won’t be the last. Chamber President Mike Nicastro said the plan is to bring in each candidate so members can hear what they have to say and ask questions.
About two dozen people turned out to hear Malloy, who promised a streamlined, “honest and transparent” state government if he wins the top job.
“I present myself as a change agent,” said Malloy, but one with experience in government, ready to tackle the challenges Connecticut faces.
The midst of economic crisis is not the time for newcomers to take the reins and learn on the job, he said.
Malloy said he would tackle the issue of unfunded mandates, something that is vexing mayors struggling with municipal budgets. But Malloy said some mandates are good ones, such as the requirement that restaurants be regularly inspected.
Attorney Tim Furey, who is active with the chamber, told Malloy that they recently met with the local delegation to talk about the coming session as they do each year.
But this year was the first time in about 15 years, Furey said, that the elected officials looked at them and in essence said, “We got nothing.”
Malloy said the problem isn’t with the individual representatives, who he said are “great people,” but with the way things work in Connecticut, aren’t the ones making the decisions.
“Legislators don’t debate anything anymore,” said Malloy. Instead, he said, decisions are made by a group of about 10 people, including the governor, the governor’s budget director, the president of the senate, the speaker of the house, the majority and minority leaders in both houses and the leaders of the finance committee.
Only when a deal is reached is the legislature called in to vote on it, said Malloy.
Malloy said he’d like to see “systemic change,” from property tax reform to school funding formulas and the regulations placed on small businesses, but said the first priority has to be the economic crisis that threatens to collapse state government.
He said he’d be an active, engaged governor, someone who perfectly positioned to work with the General Assembly because he is more conservative than most of the Democrats there, and more liberal than most of the Republicans.
“I’ll herd the cats by showing leadership,” Malloy said.
The state is likely to end up borrowing more money to operate, Malloy said, adding another $200 million to the fiscal burden the next governor will inherit.
“We’re running on empty,” said Malloy. “Nobody wants to raise taxes in an election year, so they won’t.”
Malloy said he wouldn’t want to balance the budget at the expense of those who can least afford it, so he wouldn’t touch the “safety net” funding for drug and mental health treatment, probationary programs, rape crisis centers and similar items.
“Everything else has to stay on the table,” said Malloy.

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