Malloy reflects on his first Generally Assembly session [Waterbury Republican-American]

June 9, 2011

Gov. Malloy and Democrats say Connecticut is “open for business,” yet we created more anti-business legislation this year in the three years I have been at the State Capitol! Read about it here:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy reflected on his first Generally Assembly session in a traditional closing speech to lawmakers.

Malloy acknowledged the biggest piece of unfinished business, the ratification of a tentative agreement on union concessions and other labor savings.

The upcoming two-year, $40.5 billion budget relies on the $1.6 billion in savings from the labor deal to balance. The accord purports to save $700.7 million in the first year and $901.2 million in the second year.

However, the legislature’s budget office has called into question how much the agreement will actually save. The Office of Fiscal Analysis said its analysts were unable to verify many of the cost estimates.

“We all know there is one more step that needs to be taken for this budget to be locked in,” Malloy said, referring to looming ratification votes.

The governor has threatened to lay off as many as 7,500 state workers and slash spending if the 15 state employee unions and their 34 locals reject the labor agreement.

“I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say I hope they ratify the agreement so that we can avoid going to Plan B and large-scale and long-term layoffs,” Malloy said.

The adopted budget included sweeping tax increases. State taxes go up $1.4 billion in the first year and $1.2 billion in the second.

The budget raises the income tax, the sales tax, business taxes, excises taxes on tobacco and alcoholic beverages, fuel taxes and admission taxes. It imposes a new tax on electric generators, and it also enacted a so-called Amazon taxes on some Internet purchases.

Malloy did not directly reference the tax increases in his adjournment speech to a joint session of the legislature.

“This budget is nothing to celebrate,not when it asks for so much sacrifice from so many people,” he said. “Let us hope this is the last time we need go down this road.”

Sen. Robert J. Kane, R-Watertown, the ranking Senate Republican on the Appropriations Committee, was not surprised Malloy did not mention taxes. He said Malloy and majority Democrats enacted record-setting tax increases.

Malloy is the first Democratic governor to work with a Democrat-controlled legislature in 20 years.

The governor thanked Democrats for supporting the budget. Some 15 House Democrats and three more in the Senate opposed the budget. No Republicans voted for the two-year plan.

“It was a tough vote, but it was the right vote to make. It is an honest budget that ends the games of the past and puts Connecticut on the road to a better tomorrow,” Malloy said.

The governor highlighted what he considered to be notable accomplishments of the session, economic development initiatives, the expansion of the the University of Connecticut Health Center, the establishment of a state airport authority, government consolidation, the enactment of an earned income tax credit, decriminalization of marijuana, paid sick leave, expansion of school breakfast programs.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, disputed Malloy’s sunny assessment of the session’s accomplishments.

“This governor is proud of his record, and I respectfully disagree. I think we are going in the wrong direction,” he said.

Malloy also laid out part of his his continuing agenda.

He said he wants to call the legislature into special session this fall that focuses on job creation. He plans to consult legislative leaders in the coming days.

“Why do we have to go into special session? We could have done all these things this session. We should have started Jan. 1 attacking this jobs problem, not come back in September,” Kane said.

Malloy said he and Catherine Smith, the head of the Department of Economic and Community Development, will be meeting with members of the business comunity over the next few months. He said he wants to share idea about how state government can aid businesses in job creation.

“He says he is open for business, yet we created more anti-business legislation this year in the three years I have been here. It is a bit hypocritical in my mind for him to talk about jobs,” Kane said.

The governor also repeated his desire to make education reform a focus of the legislature’s 2012 session.