Speaking the truth about Connecticut’s fiscal health and Malloy’s record

Greenwich-Voices-GoldrickFabled Connecticut resident Mark Twain once wrote, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” That certainly seems to be the case with the falsehoods and distortions going around regarding the Connecticut economy and Gov. Malloy’s record.

So let’s help the truth put its shoes on.

Let’s look at the notion that Connecticut’s credit is poor. Hartford-based Conning & Company ranked Connecticut as the second worst state in the nation for credit quality. But look closer. In its April 2014 report State of the States, Conning notes that Connecticut’s general obligation bonds carry “Aa3/AA/AA ratings, which are considered good.”

It continues, “The state’s fiscal practices and its history of solving budget problems are important credit strengths. As the state with the highest per capita income, the strong demand for its tax-exempt bonds is keeping its borrowing costs low.”

Connecticut’s credit rating of AA from Fitch is shared with 15 states and ranks higher than that of six states (including Chris Christie’s New Jersey). So, far from having the worst credit rating in the nation, Connecticut actually stands equal to, or higher than, 22 states.

Take a look at job growth. According to Connecticut Department of Labor data, more than 55,000 private sector jobs have been created during the three and a half years of the Malloy administration. That translates into a monthly increase of more than 1,300 private sector jobs, which is 50% higher than the rate during John Rowland’s near decade in office.

In fact, 17,000 more private sector jobs have been created in Connecticut during Malloy’s three and a half years in office than were added during the entire 16 years under John Rowland and Jodi Rell.

During Rowland’s tenure, fully one-third of all of the jobs created in Connecticut were government jobs. By contrast, Malloy’s administration has seen government employment contract by 5,000 jobs. That includes shrinkage of the state workforce by more than 1,500 positions. Government employment in Connecticut today is lower than at any time in the past 15 years. So while the Republicans talk about reducing the size of government, Malloy has actually achieved it.

Now the charge that Malloy has “raided the transportation trust fund.” John McKinney accuses Malloy of diverting $189 million from the transportation fund, a charge parroted by State Sen. L. Scott Frantz. And Tom Foley has accused Malloy of diverting “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

But a recent Hartford Courant analysis stated that, though Malloy “has made hundreds of millions worth in modifications to the scheduled transfers, the net value of the changes is about $43 million in money meant for the transportation fund but instead used for the general fund.”

It continues, “Through provisions in laws passed in 2011 and 2013, Malloy has raised the share of petroleum tax receipts received by the transportation fund. … The transportation fund is more valuable today than when Malloy took office.”

The analysis found, “Although his opponents have used claims about the transportation fund to suggest that the Malloy administration has neglected the state’s roads and bridges, Malloy has spent more on transportation than both Rell and her predecessor, Republican John Rowland. According to a budget breakdown provided by Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, Malloy has outpaced Rell in road and bridge spending by about $170 million a year.”

In contrast, according to an analysis by the Connecticut Mirror, during the six fiscal years under Rell and Rowland before Malloy took office, just 41% of all the revenues in the special transportation trust fund were spent on transportation-related projects. Far from “raiding” the special transportation fund, Malloy has increased the value of the fund, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars more on repairing roads and bridges than either Rowland or Rell.

The lies may have gotten half way around the world, but at least the truth is getting going in Connecticut.

 

Sean Goldrick is a Democratic member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, though the opinions expressed in this column are his own. He may be reached at [email protected]

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