As part of his ‘exploration’ of a ‘possible’ run for governor in 2010, Democratic hopeful Dan Malloy met with the Waterford Democratic Town Committee (WDTC) last night, April 28, 2009.
In the interest of full disclosure, this poster will admit that he is a Malloy supporter from 2006 and believes that he is the best candidate in 2010 as well. That being said, here is a blow by blow account of his visit to the WDTC.
The current budget session is a disaster. It is a symptom of the failure of the Rowland-Rell administrations to grow the economy of Connecticut.
In the past fourteen years as Mayor of Stamford, Malloy pointed to the following accomplishments: 1) Universal pre kindergarten regardless of financial circumstances. The program is a partnership if the Board of Education, the City, and a not for profit provider. The City does not pay for all children but provides a subsidy for those who cannot afford to pay.
2) Lowered Crime Rate by 62.3%. Stamford is the fourth safest city in US (up from 31st when Malloy assumed the office of Mayor)
3) Added Jobs when most of the State was losing jobs.
4) Built multifamily affordable housing along with other housing to support the jobs that had been created.
Democrats need to choose a candidate that is able to convey and idea and has a vision. The candidate must be willing to grow the economy, not continue the negative job growth currently occurring in the state. Except for Stamford and the areas around the Casinos, the rest of the state has experience negative job growth.
The State has not invested sufficiently in the infrastructure, or the education of its children in the past twenty years. The State is over relient on property tax to support education. the State needs to change direction. It needs and infusion of new ideas and positive changes. The Democrats need to get this message across no matter who the Republicans run – Governor Rell or someone else.
Malloy stated that he was a former prosecutor in New York, then came home and served on the Stamford Board of Education, Board of Finance, and then as Mayor for fourteen years. He believes the lesson taught be his mother to leave the world a better place. He knows that Democrats worry more about other people and want a tide that will lift all boats. In the next election, it will have been twenty four years without a Democratic governor. It is time to elect a Democrat.
The floor was then opened for questions.
Question – If you were the Governor today, what would you be doing to solve the current budget crisis?
Answer – “First, I would show up for work every day.” Malloy then stated that he would have presented a balanced budget, not one that pretended to be balanced by using incorrect data. He would be meeting daily with legislative leadership and rank and file to get a really balanced budget. He would be an activist governor. For example, the Governor of MA has a $1 Billion fund to get medical research companies to move into the state and he has already lured two from Connecticut.
Question- How would you have done UCONN 2000 Differently?
Answer – During this period, CT fielded a number of new ideas from UCONN research teams. Unfortunately, none have stayed in CT. UCONN 2000 should have invested more into people, not just the buildings. During the years of a growing economy, the governor did not do the job of growing the CT economy. Infrastructure is suffering. I95 in Fairfield County is a blockage to commerce for the rest of the state. There needs to be a change of direction.
Question – How would you work with “both sides of the aisle”?
Answer – Since Malloy is from Fairfield County, he stated he would be able to cut into Republican Support for the Current administration. He is an “Economic Growth” Democrat. In Stamford he has to work with a forty member City Council that has a strong Republican contingent. He knows how to lead in a multiparty system. He was able to shake things up in Stamford and change direction. He has been able to get Federal Government support directly to Stamford by working with Federal administrators. There needs to be an investment in CT infrastrucure similar to the investment made by New Jersey. NJ updated their highway interchanges, established ferry services acrosss the Hudson, and upgraded their train systems to New York. They built new schools to attract educated professionals. New Jersey prospered while CT remained stagnant.
Question – Are you in favor of Tolls?
Answer – If the funds raised by tolls were guarenteed to go to funding transportation improvements, Malloy would strongly consider them. If tolls were to add to the general fund, he would not favor placing them on the highways. CT has not taken advantage of federal funds for rail improvements. The federal government would have paid for new rail cars five years ago if CT had asked like NJ did. Malloy favors light rail connection to heavy rail, even in SE CT. Cities will benefit from light rail connections to the heavy rail corridor.
Question – Based on your familarity with SE CT, how do you see SE CT evolving in the near future?
Answer – There are things to improve in SE CT. Malloy noted he was a Trustee of Mitchell College and his special emphasis is on programs for the learning disabled since he suffers from such a disability. Education plays a key roll but there is insufficient coordination between colleges and the state. It takes too long to get new programs in place to support the economy. There are many academic resources in CT and some high tech industries but the coordination of research between Pfizer, UCONN, and YALE could be much better. In fact, it would be a good idea to enter into regional partnership with other New England States to promote a New England regional solution. In the area of transportation, while NJ built and remodeled interchanges and installed light rail, CT just maintained what it had. Housing has been crippled by foreclosures. In Windham County one in 180 homes are in foreclosure compared to one it 245 for the rest of the state. A Governor has to have an agenda to help small business. Small business plays a large role in the local economy. Banks need to be able to loan to small business again. There may be some hope from the Obama administration if the SBA would guarentee 90% of a loan vice only 50% of a small business loan.
Question – How do you break through the “Jodie Effect”?
Answer – “I am not afraid to engage in the battle.” I say that if you want a State that is dead last in job growth; Has the most expensive electricity; Has gridlock on I95 then be sure to vote for M.Jodie Rell. If you want change in Hartford like the change that is currently occuring in Washington, then vote for the Democratic nominee.
Question – What is your stand on Health Care?
Answer – The pooling bill currently before the legislature is a good start but there will be a lag time to set it up if it passes. There needs to be a real insurance program that gets the insurance companies to hold their prices with a proper opt in and opt out procedure. Malloy would build a universal health care system by starting with universal health care for all children. Such a program would not be like the Charter Oak program that is neither insurance or coverage since there are no providers. After all children are covered, it would be much easier to extend to all members of family whether through employers or the government. The state also needs to rebuild its public health systems. There are not enough clinics, Doctors,etc to see that health care is adminstered at the lowest cost possible for the service. For example, San Franciso is developing such a neighborhood health care center.
Question – How do you see education in the inner cities and the state’s rural areas?
Answer – Children in urban areas start with a disadvantage because they are not ready to succeed. You can’t spend the same amount of dollars in New London as you would in Waterford and get the same results. Every child needs to enter Kindergarten ready to learn. That is the importance of the Pre K program discussed earlier. The state needs to get off the reliance on property tax to fund education. There need to be programs to get families involved with their children’s education. CT needs to grasp the opportunity presented by the Obama administration to improve education.
Question – How would you evaluate the effectiveness of State programs? Right now, the legislature is attempting to do this since the Executive branch does not seem interested.
Answer – There is no question that CT wastes a lot of money. The state auditors audited a State department and found that not one of the recommendations of their last audit had been fullly implemented. The state must not waste the opportunity to improve. The approach must be transparent to all. Stamford has a better bond rating than the State.
Closing Remarks- Urge the Democrats to chose a candidate early, and not have a primary. Malloy will support who ever is the Democratic nominee. He has fourteen years of executive experience and being the mayor of the fourth largest city is good training to be the governor of a small state.
Of note, the WDTC will hear from the other ‘exploring’ candidate, Susan B, at its June meeting and the committee agreed that it did not need to hear from the one declared candidate, former Speaker Jim Amann.