Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today told the leaders of small towns (under 30,000 population) that in his first full year in office he fulfilled his vow, made to them last year, not to balance the state’s budget on their backs.
“What a difference a year makes,” Malloy told about 200 people, many of them local leaders from Connecticut’s 169 towns who gathered in Cromwell for the annual meeting of Connecticut Council of Small Towns.
“When I was sworn in as governor … I was handed a budget that was $3.6 billion out of balance. I came here and I know there were a bunch of folks that were worried about what was going to happen to local governments. We proposed not to balance the budget on your backs and we didn’t. We met our commitments. We’re now looking forward to what we do next.”
What he plans to do next, Malloy said, is pursue his other promises to maintain the fiscal discipline he said he brought back to state government, grow jobs and reform Connecticut’s education system, three initiatives that Malloy said go hand in hand.
And he challenged the local leaders to join him in his efforts to bring jobs back here and properly educate the state’s children.
“We will balance our budgets and we will maintain a level of fiscal discipline that hasn’t been present in Connecticut for some time. We will continue to promote job growth. No net job growth puts pressure on local governments (that are) reliant on property taxes more than any other state in the nation. If we don’t get our (jobs) pipeline going again, if we don’t get our economy going again, we’re going to suffer for years.”
His administration, Malloy said, is trying to make it easier for businesses to locate here by streamlining the state regulatory process. For instance, he said, the departments of transportation and environmental protection have been directed to process completed applications within 60 days after they are submitted. He said local governments can help by streamlining their own regulatory processes.
“I’m not telling you that you have to do anything in your community that you don’t want to do, but we have to get away from being known as a state that gets tied up in the regulatory process. (Businesses) are wary about coming to our state because it takes so long to get local and state decisions.”
He also used his appearance before the town leaders to promote his education reform plan, which includes proposals to overhaul teacher certification, tenure and evaluations. In his administration, Malloy said, maintaining fiscal discipline will extend to the money that is spent in local classrooms.
“No community will lose money in (state education) funding and many communities will gain funding, lowest performing districts will gain money,” he said. “But we’re not simply going to give people money any more. We’re going to hold them responsible for results. Teachers and administrators need to be held responsible in the classrooms.”
During a brief press conference following his address to COST, Malloy took aim at critics of his reform plan, many of them teachers’ unions, who have said his administration is seeking to implement some of the reforms too quickly.
“I don’t find statements about moving too rapidly helpful,” the governor said.