Wednesday night’s 150th district debate in Old Greenwich between Republican candidate Michael Bocchino and Democratic candidate Jill Oberlander illuminated some very different positions on the state of the Connecticut economy, if similar positions on the Connecticut Gun Safety Law (both support) and abortion (both are pro-choice.)
There was some disagreement over whether to continue dredging the deposits flowing into Binney Pond (Oberlander), or to install catch basins upstream of Binney Pond, hopefully halting those deposits altogether (Bocchino).
Notably, when Bocchino called Oberlander on her statement that Governor Malloy had not raided the Special Transportation Fund (reallocating $91MM ad &18.5MM into the General Fund the past two years, and Bocchino had already corrected Oberlander on this point at the League of Women Voters debate at Town Hall last week), Mrs. Oberlander pivoted, without acknowledging her misstatement, and accused prior GOP governors of doing worse. Also not true, as the budgets were legislative super majority Democrat budgets.
Mrs. Oberlander went on record with her belief that the economy in CT is doing well, and getting better, while Mr. Bocchino relayed some statistics that alluded to a more grave reality. While Mrs. Oberlander dismissed Mr. Bocchino’s remarks as partisan fodder, the facts tell another story.
Connecticut is lagging most of the country in its ability to add jobs (other than the additional 459 government jobs Governor Malloy plans to “create”), in an unfriendly business environment which many companies have either fled or elected to halt/slow further investment in. CT ranked #1 in people moving from the state in 2013 (Connecticut by the Numbers, 1/4/2014), and ranked #50 in the nation in annual economic growth (CT Dept. of Labor economist Daniel Kennedy).
On a “brighter” note, Connecticut was ranked #46 for economic performance and #43 for economic outlook (CBIA Government Affiars). Connecticut’s out-of-control spending could not be covered by Governor Malloy’s $1.8B tax hike of 2011, and the 2012 budget, enacted in 2013, was balanced only by gimmicks like shifting $6B of Medicaid spending off-budget (Forbes, 8/1/2013; “How Did Connecticut Morph into One of America’s Worst Performing Economies?”).
Barron’s, quoted in the same Forbes article, considers Connecticut as a state to be in the worst financial shape in the nation, while the CATO Institute gave Governor Malloy an “F” for “economic policies that throttle investors and entrepreneurs”. In a CBIA Blum/Shapiro 2014 survey of Connecticut Business (CBIA Government Affairs), business leaders ranked Connecticut’s economic condition as their greatest concern.
We need significant change in Hartford on many levels for our state to prosper again, and a candidate must first see that need to step in and address it. I encourage everyone in the 150th District to vote for Mike Bocchino.