Top Republican leaders blasted Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday for “rhetoric” that they said “doesn’t match the facts.”
Senate Republican leader John McKinney and House leader Larry Cafero held a post-session press conference that differed sharply with Malloy’s end-of-session speech and post-session news conference.
Malloy hailed the accomplishments of the past 16 months, but Republicans said Malloy has failed to keep his long-held promises of switching the state’s finances to generally accepted accounting principles and avoiding all gimmicks in balancing the budget. Republicans voted against many of Malloy’s initiatives that were approved this year by the Democratic-controlled legislature.
“What the citizens of Connecticut should be concerned about is one party government doesn’t work,” McKinney told reporters Thursday. ”One party government has given us the largest tax increase in the history of the state of Connecticut. … It has given us a budget that is not honest and transparent like the taxpayers deserve. One party government has given us an economy that is still struggling.”
“Governor Malloy talked last night about the dramatic change over the last 16 months,” McKinney said. “During the creation of the Malloy budget, with the largest tax increase in state history … he said we were going to take the road less traveled. And in taking that road, we’ve ended up right back where we started: 29 states have budget surpluses. Connecticut, taking that road less traveled, had a budget deficit.”
McKinney added, “Governor Malloy, we’re not fooled by your budget gimmicks. He said he was going to be honest and transparent and have GAAP accounting. Rather than cut spending, Governor Malloy gave up GAAP accounting. There’s no more honesty and transparency.”
But Malloy presented a completely different picture early Thursday morning in discussing the just-completed session during a speech in the historic Hall of the House. In a speech that lasted 10 minutes, Malloy ticked off a series of changes that had been made, including allowing Sunday alcohol sales and permitting Election Day voter registration. He did not mention two major, controversial issues that he supported: repealing the death penalty and legalizing medical marijuana.
“ Over the course of the last 16 months we have pushed more change through these two chambers than has occurred in Connecticut in a long, long time,” Malloy said in his speech. “Positive, meaningful change. We’ve changed our economy – growing thousands of new, private sector jobs for the first time in years. We’ve created 18,100 new, private sector jobs in the past 16 months, and the unemployment rate is 20 percent lower than it was the first time I spoke here. We’ve gone from being two-tenths of a point above the national unemployment rate to a half point below.”
After listing the items that were approved, Malloy said, “That’s a lot of change. It’s required a lot of tough decisions to be made. Along the way, I have to admit, it’s ruffled a lot of feathers. That’s because change is hard.
“Let me repeat: change is hard. But change is also necessary. While the world changed, and while states around us changed, Connecticut stood still. Now, thanks to the men and women in this chamber, that’s no longer the case. Now, Connecticut is changing, too – for the better.”
Malloy continued, “You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished, but we should all remember how much more work there is to do. We need to continue to focus on creating jobs.”
At a Thursday morning news conference, Malloy said he probably would sign the Sunday alcohol sales bill next week, and that sales could start the following Sunday, May 20. In addition, the first holiday sales would be this year on Memorial Day.
But McKinney said the reality is different from the talk of accomplishments.
“The same governor who wanted to spend over a half a billion dollars on a useless busway from New Britain to Hartford is taking money away from fixing and repairing roads and bridges,” McKinney said.
He added, “Last but not least, one party government gave us a downgrade in our bond rating and probably another one in the future: $222 million borrowed for operating expenses by Governor Malloy – the governor who said no fiscal gimmicks. … The rhetoric doesn’t match the facts.”
After McKinney’s initial remarks, Cafero said, ”Using Governor Malloy’s standards that he set for himself, I believe we had a failed session. To give credit where it’s due, we did education reform. Was it historic, bold and sweeping? No. That’s not his fault. It’s something we should have done a long time ago. … [To give] credit where it’s due, we did a bipartisan education reform package.”
McKinney, though, complained that the Democratic majority delivered the 185-page education bill to the Republicans late at night and started the debate soon after in the 36-member Senate.
“I guarantee you that over 30-plus members of the state Senate did not read that bill, and that’s not right,” McKinney said. “You can’t call it good government when you’re asking senators to vote on bills they have not read.”