ROCKY HILL – Republican gubernatorial candidates Tom Foley and John McKinney squared off here Thursday night in their first face-to-face debate of the primary season – sharply criticizing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and avoiding any direct criticisms of each other.
The candidates blasted the actions of Malloy and the Democratic-controlled state legislature for increasing spending and passing the largest tax increase in state history in 2011 that they said is still hurting the state’s economy. They criticized a new tax that has since been phased out on electricity generators, such as the Dominion nuclear power plant in Waterford.
Sitting about 10 feet away from each other on a stage and separated by a moderator, the candidates discussed a wide variety of issues from the minimum wage and the Common Core educational standards to the proposed baseball stadium in Hartford for the New Britain Rock Cats professional baseball team.
Foley and McKinney hammered the Hartford-to-New Britain busway that is currently being constructed for more than $550 million – with the federal government paying for the vast majority of the costs as the only “shovel-ready’’ construction project that was set to go when Malloy took office.
“It was the only way that he could immediately create jobs,’’ Foley told a crowd of more than 50 people in a hotel ballroom. “This was borrowing a lot of money to create some jobs.’’
McKinney offered similar remarks, saying, “It was a waste of money. … Fixing roads and bridges is important. Building busways are not.’’
Regarding tolls, McKinney said the state legislators who support tolls are those who do not live near the state borders.
“It’s just another tax, and people are already over-taxed,’’ McKinney said of tolls. “The amount of Connecticut residents who pay those tolls will far surpass’’ the money paid by out-of-state drivers who are traveling through Connecticut.
The candidates saved all of their criticism for Malloy and steered away from the recent criticism that McKinney had for Foley.
“John and I have both entered into an agreement to keep it positive,’’ Foley said after the debate, adding that he expects it to remain that way because McKinney is “honorable.’’ Continue reading