Malloy urges state to tackle transportation woes, economic fragility: ‘We can be No. 1 again’
CROMWELL — A woefully inadequate transportation system that lags behind many other states and the state’s historic inability to sustain economic growth are the two biggest issues facing Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday.
“We can win this battle to get our economic house in order,” he told business people and other key Middlesex County stakeholders during the breakfast meeting at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell.
“I’m very concerned about transportation and the inaction in the Legislature. Transportation has got to be fixed,” Malloy told reporters outside the conference room following the breakfast.
Connecticut has a history of not investing in upgrades to its roads and railway systems, he said.
“You can raise money or designate money for transportation over other priorities or you can gut the system and not spend the money, which is what we did for the better part of 40 years,” Malloy said.
The state has a history of failing to bolster its economic growth long term, the governor said.
“We allowed people not only to catch up with Connecticut with respect to the quality of its workforce, but, in some cases, go beyond Connecticut in its ability to attract new employers or to see growth in our state. We are on road that will get us to where we need to go — if we stay on that road,” Malloy said.
Earlier this week, political commentator Donald Pesci attributed large employers abandoning the state to the Malloy administration’s habit of levying large tax hikes.
In his most recent column, Red Notes from a Blue State, Pesci called those increases “both the largest and the second largest in Connecticut history,” which, he said, have contributed to firms fleeing the Nutmeg State.
Pesci said the deluge of people and employers like Aetna moving out of Connecticut is in direct response to the high cost of living and equally high cost of doing business.
“(The) repeated business of punishing tax increases, beginning with former Governor Lowell Weicker’s game-changing income tax and continuing unabated through the Malloy administration, have ‘leveled the playing field’ — and with it Connecticut’s advantage over high tax bordering states,” Pesci wrote.
Malloy said he has hope things will change.
“We can be No. 1 again,” Malloy said, pointing to the state’s robust workforce, educational institutions and strong corporate community, including United Technologies, Electric Boat and Travelers.
“We have the companies that can build the kind of state we want our state to be, and this will allow our children and grandchildren to remain in the state that we all love,” Malloy said.
McHugh praised the governor’s effort in leading the state. “He’s given it 110 percent effort and there’s no one that’s been more dedicated to turning things around and stop (the) kicking (of) the can forward.”
Malloy echoed those sentiments.
“We’re hard on ourselves. We are unlike many other states — we actually almost refuse to celebrate our successes and almost insist on magnifying our weaknesses.”
McHugh agreed with the governor.
Malloy said the state must overcome its “glass half-empty” point of view.
“We cannot afford to be that state any longer. We’ve wasted too many decades,” he said.
The governor said he has faith the state can right its economic ship. “But we have a history of turning off and getting (off track) and being afraid. We can conquer these issues if we do it on a sustained basis,” Malloy said. “We are doing better than we give ourselves credit for.”
He then turned to criticism of the $1.5 trillion tax package that Republicans in the House and Senate passed Wednesday.
In a statement released Wednesday after the House passed the $1.5 trillion package in a re-vote, Trump said that he promised the public “a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas” and “that is exactly what they are getting,” according to the Associated Press.
“This is the most unpopular tax package that has ever been taken up,” Malloy said. “Normally, tax packages are popular, but this thing is so far underwater that it’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen lemmings jump off a cliff into the sea, but it looks a lot like that in Washington,” he said.
Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump praised the final passage of the tax overhaul, saying, “We are now pouring rocket fuel into the engine of our economy.”