Just hours before the first gubernatorial debate, Republican Tom Foley unveiled his plans for Connecticut on Wednesday – with a focus on improving the economy, creating jobs, fixing low-performing public schools, controlling state spending, lowering taxes, and improving ethics at the state Capitol.
Foley has been criticized consistently by Democrats for being vague on various issues, but he released a 10-page plan Wednesday.
Foley and incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy are locked in a dead heat in the fall election, according to various polls, in a rematch of their 2010 contest that was the closest gubernatorial election in Connecticut in more than 50 years.
A longtime business executive, Foley focused on jobs near the beginning of his five-point plan.
“Connecticut’s unemployment rate remains unacceptably high at 6.6 percent, significantly higher than the national average,” he wrote. “The nation has recovered 105 percent of non-farm jobs lost during the recession, but Connecticut has only recovered 64 percent of non-farm jobs – one of the worst job recovery rates in the nation. Connecticut’s economy has grown only 3 percent since the depths of the recession – the lowest growth rate in New England – while our next door neighbor Massachusetts has grown 11 percent.”
Later, those points came up again Wednesday night during the debate between Foley and Malloy on a wide variety of subjects. Foley said that Connecticut’s economy has grown by only 1 percent overall since Malloy became governor – not 1 percent per year.
“Governor, this is not working,” Foley said while seated on the stage at Norwich Free Academy. “Massachusetts, our neighbor, has had growth of 11 percent since the bottom of the recession. … You are hurting the citizens of our state with your policies.’’
“The reality is we’ve created 60,000 private sector jobs since Nancy [Wyman] and I took over,” Malloy responded. “I understand that what you have to do is make everybody feel as bad as they can.”
Under his plan, Foley said that the five points “that matter most” are restoring the economy, gaining control over the cost of state government, reforming the tax code, improving the schools, and “changing the way business is done’’ in Hartford.
But Mark Bergman, a spokesman for Malloy’s campaign, said he would not use the word “plan’’ for the concepts that Foley released Wednesday.
“The fact is this is nine pages of talking points he has used for the last year slapped together and called a ‘plan’ without a single, specific spending cut to pay for any of what he promised. Not one,’’ Bergman said. “We have seen this game plan before 20 years ago with John Rowland, and Connecticut has seen how that worked out. Tom Foley would take Connecticut’s progress over the last four years and shift it directly into reverse.’’
Despite the current problems, Foley says Connecticut has a chance for a bright future.
“Connecticut is an amazing place,” Foley says in the introduction to the plan. “We have the convenience of big cities and the serenity of rolling countryside. We have excellent universities, strong civic engagement and a long, colorful history. We have a tradition of innovation and ingenuity. We have industrious, hard-working people. With all these assets, Connecticut should be doing better than it is. We aren’t because we are being held back by Governor Malloy’s progressive agenda and anti-business policies.”
Foley continued, “With new leadership and smarter, reform-oriented policies we can get Connecticut back on track. Connecticut’s citizens need and deserve more from their state government. Pride and prosperity in Connecticut aren’t that far away, but they are in a different direction from where we are headed under Governor Malloy.”
On taxes, Foley wrote:
“In 2010, the average Connecticut household paid $8,800 in state taxes, or one in every eight dollars of average household earnings. In 2011, Governor Dan Malloy enacted the largest tax increase in state history— $1.8 billion a year. By 2013, the average Connecticut household paid$11,639 in taxes, an increase of nearly $3,000 per household, or one in every six dollars of average household earnings. According to the Tax Foundation, Connecticut’s state and local taxes per capita are among the highest in the nation.
Foley continued, “As Governor, I will order a top to bottom review of state tax policy to ensure that the way we tax our citizens and businesses is fair and equitable, doesn’t put us at a disadvantage to neighboring states, and supports economic growth and job creation.
• I will lower taxes on Connecticut’s hardest-hit families by cutting the sales tax, the states
most regressive tax, by half a percent.
• I will immediately eliminate any tax or fee that is not cost-effective for the state to
• I will compare our tax rates and tax policy to other states, particularly neighboring states,
to be sure our taxes are not driving businesses and individuals away from Connecticut.
• I will work with cities and towns to reduce property taxes—particularly for seniors, many
of whom are forced out of their homes because they can no longer afford them.
• I will increase transparency so that Connecticut taxpayers aren’t being hit with “stealth
taxes” they cannot see, such as hidden taxes on electricity and gas.
• I will work with the legislature to agree on a bi-partisan, long-term tax policy for
Connecticut that is based on sound economic policy and fairness, and which puts an end
to the old-world politics of pitting groups of citizens or regions of the state against each
On public education, Foley wrote:
“I will fix our under-performing schools with “real” education reform. We must do this to ensure
every young person in Connecticut gets a fair start with a decent education. “Real” reform does
not mean interfering with local control of schools that are performing well. Where schools are
not performing well, I will:
• Make sure no child is trapped in a bad school—it is not fair. The American promise
of fairness and opportunity is not there if a child cannot get a decent education.
Parents with children in under-performing schools should be able to choose among
other in-district public schools.
• Implement “money follows the child” including a variable grant amount based on a
• Provide more support for teachers who are the most important factor in educational
• Improve transparency and introduce an A-F school grading system to give educators
and parents the information they need to make sure every child is given a good
• Ensure that no one slips through the cracks by requiring that third graders pass a
reading test before being allowed to go on to fourth grade and that high school
students pass a regents-style exam before graduating.”