So put your self in the shoes of Tom Foley, the presumptive Republican candidate for Governor. He knows that his nemesis, Dan Malloy, came to office facing the largest per capita budget deficit in the nation and an economy weakened by the financial crisis of 2008-9. He knows (but won’t admit to us) that Governor Malloy has guided Connecticut through adversity to a balanced budget, economic recovery, private sector job growth, debt reduction, smaller government, education initiatives and the implementation of the most successful American Care Act roll-out in the country. That’s impressive. No one denies that even with this list there’s still more to do but given the size of the problems he inherited the Governor’s performance has been outstanding. Frankly I wouldn’t want to be in Mr. Foley’s shoes!
Candidate Foley seems to have two lines of policy attack, judging from a recent article: bluster and business. On the first he cites dubious (and unnamed) polls about people leaving the state and throws around epithets about “out of touch or dishonest leadership” and claims that “the Governor and reality diverge.” He makes totally unsubstantiated claims about an “epidemic of head scratching” caused by some supposed gap between what we hear from Governor Malloy and what we “know is really happening.” Mr. Foley may believe this tired rhetoric but we don’t have to.
The OECD’s “Better Life Index” ranks Connecticut sixth among states in a country that leads the globe in economic development. But we don’t need a study to tell us this. We see it in our daily lives. What counts for most people is that 59,000 new private sector jobs have been created and unemployment is down to 6.9% under Governor Malloy. The gloom has lifted after the 2008-9 downturn, we’ve enjoyed 20 straight quarters of economic growth, house prices are out of their trough, it’s morning in Connecticut again, that’s what is “really happening.” Most people know it and they know that Dan Malloy’s leadership has been the key to the success story.
However, Mr. Foley gives every appearance of really wanting to be governor, an earnest of that is the $11 million of his own money he spent the last time he tried and the $8 million of our money he’ll be devoting to the enterprise this time around. He’s an honorable man so he must feel he has more to offer us than incumbent Malloy. The answer would seem to be business. And according to Mr. Foley business in Connecticut is lousy – a CNBC survey says so! Trouble is the survey is unscientific and places four old Confederate states at the top of the list as great places to “do business.” This is hardly credible and not worthy of a gubernatorial candidate. His improvement plan is not spelled out but it doesn’t need to be. We know it will be the familiar Republican themes of lower taxes and less regulation (which they repeat all round the country) though no reputable economic study has ever established the correlation between these factors and economic growth. The fact of the matter is that business taxes are lower in Connecticut than in any of the contiguous states and NJ. And when it comes to regulation I can cite my own experience as a business owner and entrepreneur that Connecticut is a great place to do business.
Back to the drawing board Mr. Foley: less empty rhetoric please and give us some serious business ideas.
Democratic Member, Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation