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Sean Goldrick Malloy a ‘transformative’ governor

December 23, 2018

As his tenure comes to a close, it is time to acknowledge that Dannel P. Malloy has proven one of the finest, most successful, indeed most transformative, governors ever to serve the state of Connecticut. It’s impossible to touch on all of his achievements in one op-ed, but here are some of them.

Start with health care. Gov. Malloy’s innovations made Connecticut a national leader in Medicaid management, shifting from a managed care model to a self-insured managed program with “value-based” payment strategies. His reforms led to the largest reductions in per-patient Medicaid spending of any state in the country.

Under Gov. Malloy’s leadership, and over Republican opposition, Connecticut established Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, that cut the uninsured rate in half and today enrolls more than 100,000 residents in its insurance policies. The exchange ran so smoothly and successfully from the outset that President Barack Obama selected its CEO, Kevin Counihan, to turn around the faltering federal exchange.

Under Gov. Malloy’s leadership, Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2012, leading to more than 31,000 patients now receiving cannabis products statewide.

Turning to education, before Gov. Malloy took office, Connecticut’s high school graduation rate had declined each year for five years straight years. Under Gov. Malloy, that trend reversed, and graduation rates have risen each year he’s been in office.

Further, Gov. Malloy’s “Next Generation Connecticut” initiative directed substantial investments into biotechnology, and into the University of Connecticut. Next Gen CT investments helped UConn’s school of engineering boost undergraduate enrollment by 70 percent, and financed UConn’s new state-of-the art science and engineering laboratory facility that has sharply enhanced Connecticut’s research capabilities.

Gov. Malloy’s environmental initiatives put the state on a long-term path to increase sustainable energy sources, and created Connecticut Green Bank, a first-of-its-kind institution that leveraged private-sector capital to finance green energy infrastructure. Connecticut Green Bank recently surpassed $1 billion in green energy projects it has financed. So successful has it been that Harvard University’s Ash Center awarded Green Bank its “Innovations In American Government Award” for “sparking a green bank movement ... and increasing the affordability and accessibility to green energy.”

Gov. Malloy has been acknowledged as a national leader in criminal justice reform. After the Sandy Hook massacre, Gov. Malloy took the lead in crafting and passing, over Republican opposition, strict new gun control laws that were so effective that over the following five years, Connecticut achieved the steepest decline in violent crime of any state in the nation — by far. Under Gov. Malloy, Connecticut discarded the barbaric practice of capital punishment, and engineered the decriminalization of marijuana, reducing arrests by more than 8,000 a year.

Gov. Malloy’s “Second Chance Society” initiative has led to dramatic reductions in incarceration rates, putting Connecticut on path to soon cut its inmate population in half, the first state in the nation to do so. His initiatives eliminated cash bail for poor inmates, reduced sentences for non-violent crimes, and increased assistance to inmates transitioning to life on the outside. While reducing recidivism, Gov. Malloy’s reforms have cut Connecticut’s crime rate to the lowest level in half a century.

While neighboring states struggled with rising homelessness, Gov. Malloy’s initiatives succeeded in making Connecticut the first state to eliminate chronic homelessness among veterans, the second state to eliminate general homelessness among veterans, and last year reached the goal of connecting every chronically homeless person with permanent housing.

Under Gov. Malloy, and over Republican opposition, Connecticut implemented the earned income tax credit, helping nearly 200,000 hard-working, low-income families make ends meet. Gov. Malloy implemented a fairer tax system, replacing Connecticut’s regressive flat-tax with a graduated tax that shifted more of the burden for funding the state to those who could best afford it.

Gov. Malloy implemented the nation’s first paid sick leave, and made Connecticut the first state to raise its minimum wage to $10/hour.

In transportation, Gov. Malloy, over Republican opposition, created CTfastrak, Connecticut’s first rapid transit bus system. Today, CTfastrak extends from New Britain to East Windsor and the University of Connecticut-Storrs campus. Confounding his critics, the system has achieved ridership levels not expected until the 2030s, while stimulating significant new commercial and residential development along its routes.

Gov. Malloy also went against his Republican critics to establish the state’s Springfield-to-New Haven commuter rail line. Today, the line carries twice as many passengers as Amtrak, which has served the route for years.

Gov. Malloy created the Connecticut Airport Authority, under whose management Bradley Airport has recorded six straight years of rising passenger growth, attracted several new airlines and routes, and for the past two years was named by Conde Nast as one of the nation’s best-run airports.

But perhaps Gov. Malloy will be remembered most not for his government innovations, but for his moral courage and decency. In 2016 the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation awarded Gov. Malloy its “Profiles in Courage” award for personally welcoming a family of Syrian refugees to New Haven after they had been turned away by Indiana’s then-Gov. Mike Pence. President Kennedy’s grandson Jack Schlossberg stated that, “Gov. Malloy put principles above politics and upheld my grandfather’s vision of America that ‘has always served as a lantern in the dark for those who love freedom but are persecuted, in misery, or in need.’”

A visionary, a man of courage, a brilliant innovator, history will acknowledge how dramatically Gov. Dannel Malloy transformed the state of Connecticut, and improved the lives of its citizens.

Sean Goldrick is an investment professional who served on the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

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