Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and the limits of aggression

March 19, 2015

By State Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington)

In competitive undertakings, sheer determination to move forward at any cost is remarkably effective, whether you’re a running back, a general, or a politician. Certainly aggression has served Dan Malloy well, elevating to national prominence a man of small accomplishment and little charm.

In a recent, fawning Washington Post interview, Malloy as always attacked, and recklessly. “We have to expose Republicans for the frauds that they are when it comes to what they want to do for working men and women,” he said, since in Malloy’s world, the measure of virtue is fidelity to his positions, and those who disagree are not simply errant but ill-intentioned. .

I read that accusation just before a legislative hearing on the Human Services budget. Deep into that evening, recipients and providers of state assistance described the impact of Malloy’s proposed cuts to hospitals, nursing homes, and local social service groups. For years, the state has shifted responsibility for those in need from government agencies to community non-profits, to improve services and to save money. Now Malloy refuses to fund the groups we’ve given this profound responsibility.

That’s one alarming corner of an ugly state budget, which depends on unrealistic projections, unwise borrowing, unpalatable cuts, and—it turns out—faulty figures. Malloy’s proposed budget was on its delivery over the spending cap and out of balance.

Preparing the budget is the governor’s principle duty, and he botched it. But like any man who lives by relentlessness, Malloy has left that problem behind him for the legislature to fix. His Democratic allies will, I believe, do what Malloy did not have the nerve to propose, and fill with higher taxes the dreadful holes in his half-baked budget.

His failures too he dismisses as history, ever determined to move on. The Back9 fiasco might prove his gaudiest flop, a venture outrageous on its face, cooked up by shady characters in cahoots with the chummiest administration insiders.

Five million taxpayer dollars were blown on a frat boy fever dream, judging by the video featuring our governor and other Democratic big-wigs celebrating at the Back9 headquarters, which featured a motorcycle in the lobby, a talking moose head, an indoor putting green and a video arcade.

Malloy has put himself—and leading Democratic politicians unwise enough to join him—on record praising the operators who fleeced the taxpayers; the video is still up, you can see it at

It’s hard not to consider where our tax dollars might otherwise have been spent. The five million dollars wasted on Back9 would have preserved the Centers for Independent Living that successfully aid the disabled; maintained the personal care allowance that means so much to nursing home patients; fully-funded the Alzheimer’s respite care program; restored cuts in services to the blind and disabled; and continued the tradition of providing a state honor guard at the burial of each veteran.

Instead, the governor chose Back9, and I’m sure no one could talk him out of it: right or wrong, he’s a decider, and woe to those who disagree with him.

For those who must govern, mere aggression eventually becomes counterproductive. Malloy is finding that out now. Like Obama, he thought the job was all about taking bows. He figured the breaks would come his way, since he’s special—and he’ll fight anyone who won’t admit it.

By no means is Dannel Malloy a dumb man, but he himself is governed, not by his mind or heart, but by his ambition, and woe to a state with such heedless leadership.