There are no guarantees that state aid to municipalities won’t face cuts if rank and file state employees don’t ratify an agreement their unions struck with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the governor told municipal leaders today.
Speaking to about 100 city and town leaders this morning in Cromwell at a meeting of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Malloy said he remains “cautiously optimistic” that unionized workers will ratify the agreement. If they don’t, Malloy warned that besides layoffs cuts would have to be made in the state budget to close an approximately $1.6 billion shortfall.
“I can’t make any guarantees,” Malloy told reporters after the gathering. “It’s a very complicated process, but I’m hopeful.”
Connecticut municipal leaders have been generally receptive to Malloy’s budget since it includes $92.5 million in increased local aid over the next two years, according to a report CCM released earlier this month. However, some local leaders have expressed concern that Malloy’s budget is predicated on getting unionized state employees to agree to concessions to balance the budget.
And a new Quinnipiac University poll shows that more than half of voters are dissatisfied -- or even angry -- at Malloy's job performance. Only 38 percent of those polled approve of the governor's job performance, while 44 percent disapprove, according to the poll. Many of those polled said they were dissatisfied with the way Malloy handled the budget, with the vast majority -- 67 percent -- of respondents saying they would rather have seen higher taxes on the wealthy, and only 17 percent saying taxes are fairly spread across all income groups.
Malloy today told reporters today he’s not worried about the poll. He said he’s trying to do what’s best for the state, not win a popularity contest.
“We had previous governors who governed for popularity and look where that got us.”
For too many years, he said, state leaders ignored significant budget problems and shifted the burden onto local communities. The result, Malloy said, is “we have the highest property taxes in the nation.”
Sounding a recurring theme in his address to the local leaders, Malloy said that as the former long-time mayor of Stamford, he understands the plight of cities and towns and how to pay for the rising costs of doing business.
He also told the municipal leaders that Connecticut must find a way to provide less costly energy to its residents and businesses and said once the state budget is put to rest this year he intends to focus on education reform. In particular, Malloy said, he wants to look at the Education Cost Sharing grant.
He said he has no specific goal in mind for the ECS, but as a new governor he wants to review it, and other spending accounts, to see how they have been administered.
“I’m going to test the assumptions that Connecticut was based on in the past.”