Here are the facts, Malloy’s economic record is a strong one

Greenwich-Voices-GoldrickIn the old TV detective series Dragnet, Jack Webb’s Detective Joe Friday was famous for saying, “Just the facts, ma’am.”  So channeling my inner Jack Webb, here are the facts.

A recent Hearst editorial asked, “[Gov.] Malloy disputes a $2.3 billion deficit projected over the two years beginning in fiscal year 2016, saying that it includes assumed taxes he would not raise. But what would he do to whittle that deficit?”

Here’s the answer. First, the Office of Fiscal Analysis’ projection is based on the absurd notion that Malloy would increase spending by 7.8%. The four budgets Malloy has proposed and passed averaged increases of less than 2.8%. The current year’s budget increased spending just 2.4%. So the suggestion that spending will nearly triple next year is nonsense.

Further, Malloy said exactly how he would deal with those projected increases in an interview with Connecticut Mirror’s Mark Pazniokas: “State agencies routinely are asked to make do without any inflationary funding bump. Similarly, analysts count some mandated increases in town aid that legislatures and governors routinely waive year after year. OFA counts contractually obligated pay raises for workers, but doesn’t consider that the governor might freeze vacant posts to offset those costs.”

Through these and other efficiencies, he would “whittle the deficit to less than $400 million.”

During the gubernatorial debates, Tom Foley claimed that during Malloy’s tenure, Connecticut’s economy has grown only 1%. Not true, says Fred Carstensen, professor of economics at the University of Connecticut and director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis.

According to Carstensen’s analysis, during the last three years under Mr. Malloy, Connecticut’s economy grew at a stonger rate (+4.07%) than every state in the Northeast region except Massachusetts (+4.21%).  Connecticut’s real GDP expanded 4.07%. In contrast, New York grew 3.6%, while New Jersey expanded just 2.74%. The state’s private sector economy registered real economic growth greater than the national average over that period.

Foley’s ads claim that the state’s loss of 3,600 jobs in August is proof that Connecticut’s economy is doing poorly. But take a closer look. The drop in employment in August came entirely from a public sector decline of 4,000 jobs, which Andy Condon, director of the Department of Labor’s office of research, attributed to “early sampling in August compared with the typical return of public school educators and support staff.”

That means that the drop resulted not from a weak economy but from a statistical undercounting of schoolteachers who had not yet begun the school year and therefore were not counted as employed full-time. In fact, Condon pointed out, “This summer appeared to be the best economically since the recovery began in 2010.”

Moreover, recently released jobs figures show strong growth in September. Under Malloy, Connecticut has added nearly 67,000 private-sector jobs. That includes 53,000 created in the last 24 months alone, the strongest private-sector job growth in 14 years. Moreover, the state has experienced year-over-year job growth in every one of the 46 months Malloy has been in office.

Further, during the less than four years of the Malloy administration, Connecticut’s private sector has added 30,000 more private-sector jobs than were added during the entire 16 years under John Rowland and Jodi Rell. One can’t assume that the state would have grown as strongly had Foley become governor in 2011.

In fall 2010, Carstensen estimated that Foley’s proposal to close a $2-billion deficit solely through spending cuts would have resulted in the loss of 39,000 jobs to the state’s economy. Carstensen recently estimated that had a Foley administration attempted to close the actual 2011 deficit of $3.7 billion solely through cuts in state spending, the state would have lost over 50,000 jobs, without actually closing the deficit.

As Joe Friday would say, those are “just the facts, ma’am.”

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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