‘Those are important things to do’
On Monday Dec. 17, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere sat down with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for an extensive discussion about Malloy’s eight years in office. The Day published a story based on the interview Dec. 20. A video of the interview can be found on theday.com. The following are a few more comments from Malloy reflecting on major policy issues.
About his drive to move the state to GAAP — generally accepted accounting principles — for its budget calculations and whether it was successful.
“Yeah we’re GAAP compliant, absolutely we’re GAAP compliant. So much so that if we were accounting the way that my predecessors counted, what everyone talks about as a deficit wouldn’t be recognized.
“Not only did I have that in my (first) speech to the legislature, I signed an executive order making us GAAP compliant. I … subsequently got the legislature to enact them into statute. And, quite frankly, that was a very important tool to use in a in a political sense with the legislature who, quite frankly, would be more than happy to be non-GAAP compliant because that certainly had, you know, allowed lots of fun things for people to spend money on that they didn’t have.”
Concerning the criticism he faced when General Electric left Connecticut for Boston, only to see G.E. fall on difficult financial times.
“Well we kept the good parts of G.E. Synchrony (Financial) is a Fortune 500 company spun off from G.E. that has 450 jobs in Connecticut. When we entered into our transaction with them I think they had about a hundred. We kept a lot of the good parts.
“You know G.E. was badly run for a long period of time. And the idea that Boston paid $140 million for the number of jobs that they have got out of the deal is really quite amazing.”
On the policies that made him an unpopular governor, according to political polls.
“When taxes needed to be raised to make sure that we put the state’s long-term fiscal health on a better track that makes you unpopular. But it was the right thing to do. And, you know, I don’t think people understood how bad the state was, what kind of shape the state was at the end of my predecessor’s term. I knew how bad it was.
“And so I think that that the reality is, my administration paid a very steep price for doing the right things on a long-term systemic basis, putting the state’s house in order, and that required some tough decisions.”
On his push for education reform.
“Teachers weren’t happy when we pointed out that we’d had five years of declining graduation rates before I came into office and that we needed to change the road we were going down on an educational basis, particularly since the losers were primarily black, brown and poor kids. And so here we are in my eighth year and we’ve documented seven years of increased graduation rates to the highest we’ve ever had, substantially greater than the national average.”
Reacting to the criticism that he had played the “race card” when pointing out that the law requiring stiffer penalties for possessing drugs within 1,500 feet of a school was racist in its outcome because, in urban centers, most people live that close to schools. The legislature later repealed the legislation.
“Well, if you live in a community where every part of the community is within 1,500 feet of one of those designated structures … we’re sitting in one right now in New London, don’t be surprised that more black and brown people go to jail for drug possession. So how do you have a discussion about a law that is having disparate impacts unfairly without raising the racial disparity. I’ve never been shy about that.
“We shouldn’t be surprised that white people get offended when race gets raised.”
The governor commented on his criminal justice reforms that saw a prison population drop from 18,000 to 13,000 during his time in office, and about his philosophy of giving prisoners the opportunities to improve themselves and defendants the chance to address substance abuse problems.
“We are the lead state in criminal justice and corrections reform, period. And that is known. And it is appreciated. And anyone who’s connected with those issues in the nation knows about our success. And they point to it on a regular basis. And most people in Connecticut ignore it on a regular basis. But so be it. What’s important to me is that people are safer. We’re saving money. People are coming out of prison and getting more jobs than they did in the past, which lowers the recidivism rate. Those are important things to do.”