GOP Forum In Bristol Hammers Malloy Administration’s Record [Hartford Courant]

March 26, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Hartford Courant

By DON STACOM, [email protected]
The Hartford Courant
10:11 PM EDT, March 21, 2013


In remarks at a forum on state spending Thursday, the top Republican in the state Senate predicted that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget would fail in a landslide if it were put to a vote by legislators.

“I’d love to be on the Senate floor if this went to a vote — I’m not sure he’d get one vote,” Minority Leader John McKinney told a crowd of several dozen at the library downtown.

Malloy’s two-year, $43.8 billion proposal is virtually certain to be tweaked or even overhauled before legislators vote in late spring, because even the Democratic majority in the General Assembly doesn’t support it, according to Republican legislators at the forum.

“It wouldn’t get a single vote,” said Rep. Whit Betts, R-Bristol.

Betts and Sen. Jason Welch, R-Bristol, joined McKinney for the latest stop on his statewide “Fiscal Responsibility Tour.” They criticized the outcome of Malloy’s previous budget as well as his controversial no-layoff deal with state unions, and slammed his new budget plan as far too heavy on spending and light on belt-tightening.

Hammering on a popular GOP theme, McKinney and Betts said Connecticut’s best hope at reducing its debt and unemployment is to improve the climate for business owners.

“The more we can get good-paying jobs in here, the better all of us will be,” Betts said.

He also endorsed privatizing many state-run social services, and said Connecticut could save $350 million to $500 million a year without eliminating any services to the poor, elderly or sick. As an example, McKinney said taxpayers could save $30 million to $40 million a year by letting a nonprofit organization take over the state-run Riverview psychiatric hospital for teens and children.

The largely Republican audience appeared to agree when Betts said a major reduction in state employee expenses is necessary to get Connecticut’s finances in better condition. But Betts also conceded that Malloy’s guarantee against worker layoffs makes that virtually impossible for now.

“Our hands are tied. We literally can’t do anything until 2014,” Betts said.

McKinney, who is considering a run for governor in 2014, extensively criticized Malloy’s administration for the New Britain busway, the Jackson Laboratory deal and the new proposal to eliminate the tax on cars valued at less than $28,000.

In answering audience questions, the three Republican speakers conceded that other policies they criticized had also been pursued by Republican Governors M. Jodi Rell and John Rowland. McKinney said the state needs an inspector general to oversee spending, but admitted that he had no more success in selling that idea to Rell than he has to Malloy.

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