Foley, Lamont find fault with Malloy's budget tactics
Updated 12:58 pm, Thursday, April 7, 2011
NEW HAVEN -- The two runners-up for governor criticized Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday for raising spending and asking for higher taxes from recession-wracked state residents
During an hourlong head-to-head at the Yale Law School, Tom Foley, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, charged that Malloy should be following the example of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who made big cuts in that state's operating budget while holding the line on new taxes.
"I thought they said they were cutting spending," said Foley, who lost to Malloy in November by 6,404 votes. "Are you confused, too? This is snake-oil stuff." He said Malloy's budget is "a cynical deception" that's full of "gimmicks and head fakes," while actually raising spending levels.
Lamont, who lost the Democratic primary by 103,154 votes to 77,772, wasn't as critical as Foley, calling Malloy's two-year proposal "relatively honest," including billions of dollars in anticipated concessions from state unions and $2.5 billion in new taxes, a full $1 billion more than Malloy has portrayed.
He said Malloy's budget would hit the middle class very hard and that the governor and his agency commissioners should accept pay cuts to at least symbolically align themselves with "shared sacrifice."
Lamont said Malloy should be more aggressive in reducing health-care costs and harnessing the expertise of the nonprofit provider community, while reforming the tax structure, including the termination of corporate taxes.
"We need a real sea change if we're going to turn around the ship of state," Lamont said, adding that Malloy's budget may be "a good start."
He said that Malloy is asking state employees to offer major givebacks, including $1 billion a year in unspecified savings.
"What we need is more taxpayers in this state," he said.
Foley said that if he had won the election, he'd be "in a better position" to leverage concessions from state unions, who supported Malloy.
Lamont challenged Foley's assessment, describing Malloy as "a bull in a china shop" while he's seeking his bottom line. He blasted John G. Rowland, the former Republican governor, who gave unions a 20-year fringe benefits deal in 1997.
Foley said nationwide movements against union rights should be taken up in Connecticut to stop taxpayers from "being held hostage." The state was in jeopardy well before the nationwide recession, said Foley, a private investor who recently started the nonprofit Connecticut Policy Institute.
"We have a very different economy from what we had," he said, noting that while the service economy has emerged throughout most of the state, high value-added jobs, including financial services, have been fostered primarily in southwestern Connecticut.
Lamont, a telecommunications executive, who like Foley lives in Greenwich, said that Connecticut has been lacking the kind of creativity exemplified by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently announced plans to start a new university focused on 21st century jobs in the sciences.
Lamont said if he were governor he would have required local school boards to agree to major reforms if they were to get larger amounts of state aid.
About 90 people attended the early evening event, sponsored by various law school organizations.
"The action right now is in the state capitals," Lamont said, asking the law students to stay in the state, after a show of hands indicated that most of the 20 or so are planning to move when they gain their degrees.
"Please do stay in Connecticut," Foley concluded. "We will fix these problems."