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On March 11, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy sat down with the editorial board of The Day for a wide-ranging discussion that lasted more than an hour. Following are excerpts from that meeting.
The Day: What gun control reforms do you hope to sign into law?
Malloy: My measures are pretty straightforward. I want to eliminate the sale of assault weapons in Connecticut, period.
I want to limit magazines to 10, period.
I recognize that we have to grandfather those guns that are currently owned in our state, so you have to declare (the gun) and you have to pass a background check. If you don't pass a background check, you've got to dispose of the gun because you shouldn't have a gun of that type and capacity.
I want to tighten our rules on gun storage. Right now, if you leave a loaded gun out and a child under the age of 6 uses it, you're liable for it. That should be if anyone uses it. You shouldn't be leaving loaded guns around your house unlocked, uncared for.
And I want universal background checks, which means no private sales. Every transaction would have to go through a licensed broker because it's the only way to secure who actually has a gun and to know that they are entitled to have a gun.
The Day: How do you address the concerns that you're undermining a very successful (firearms) industry in Connecticut? We've had elected leaders in other states overtly say, "Hey, we'll help you relocate if Connecticut doesn't want you."
Malloy: They're after those companies all the time anyway. I mean this is a card being played, quite frankly. I've sent them (gun manufacturers) all letters. I'm happy to have them stay in our state as long as they're manufacturing something that can be consumed legally in the country even if it can't be sold in our state.
But, you know, if the automobile industry said, "If you set the speed limit on our state highways at 65 miles or less and if it's anything less, we're not going to sell cars in your state," we wouldn't be held up that way.
But the idea that those folks aren't getting approached all the time is, you know, just not true.
The Day: So it sounds like it's not a factor in your decision making. You're not going to hold back any gun control proposals because of the potential economic implications?
Malloy: That's correct. I mean, I think that this is a bigger issue than that, and I think they realize it's a bigger issue than that even though they don't want to admit it. I mean, not every state has had 20 babies shot.
The Day: Connecticut is lagging behind the national economic recovery and this region is lagging behind the rest of Connecticut. The perception is that - when it comes to your business incentive programs and (your) efforts to create jobs - that southeastern has not fared as well as other parts of the state. Is that a fair observation?
Malloy: This part of the state has lagged in part because one of the industries that's been impacted are the casinos, and the casinos are being affected because there's much more competition as well as the downturn in the economy.
(This) means then we have to overcome those numbers elsewhere in the state or within the region. And that's why we have a whole different tool set, and that's why we have a whole different approach to how to grow jobs in the long run in Connecticut, which is much more small-business-centric.
In the entirety of the Rell administration, they had contact with, made investments in, loans to, substantially less than 200 companies. In one program alone, the Business Express program, we're now pushing 600 companies in 18 months. And we're making a lot of those loans, investments, revolving loans, to businesses in this part of the state.
We're spending a lot of time over in Groton on trying to repurpose the Pfizer complex, the portions of the complex that Pfizer itself does not want to use and is threatening to tear down a large portion of it to avoid the property taxes. I have met with the head of Pfizer in New York, hope to have a conversation with him in the near term. I think we're getting close to realizing some alternative uses that hopefully we could be announcing in the not-too-distant future.
We work closely with Electric Boat, with other suppliers to Electric Boat, and I think, long term, things look pretty good at Electric Boat.
I have $15 million for tourism in the budget, even though it's a tough budget ... and this is probably the portion of the state that is most impacted by tourism.
The Day: Many mayors and first selectmen have complained about your proposal to shift more state aid into the Education Cost Sharing formula ... while cutting the aid they need for municipal services. What is your strategy in taking this approach?
Malloy: Under the state Constitution, I have to put a budget forward. Not surprisingly, that budget represents my priorities, which are education and job growth and building a platform for middle-class tax relief. So nobody should be surprised that what I'm saying is, instead of funding a whole bunch of different programs, we need to concentrate on education.
And I'm not going to raise taxes.
So I'm just trying to make sure that money that's going to municipalities represents what we believe the top priority should be, and that is improving education. That's certainly the case here in New London.
The Day: Why do you propose repealing the car tax? (Except for high-price motor vehicles.) Local leaders say the loss of revenues will create big problems for them.
Malloy: With respect to the car tax, I'm happy to talk about that. You're going to have a mill rate here of 27 mills in New London. If you own the same exact car ...in another community you'll pay ... less than 11 mills.
Cars have the same value regardless of the community that they're in. It's an insane system. It's so insane, that no other state in the nation does it the way we do it.
The Day: But you're not making up for the loss of tax revenue the towns will experience.
Malloy: I've had to cut projected (state) spending. I'm not against any other local community doing the same thing as long as they're not doing it in education.
This is a form of middle-class tax relief. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. (The car tax) is the most hated, the most middle-class-unfriendly tax we have in the state of Connecticut.
I've come forward with a solution that I think makes the most sense, and that is to exempt (from taxation) cars that have a value of $28,000 or less. Let's not defend an undefendable system
The Day: The state has appointed a special master to help the city improve academic performance in New London schools. The city has many of the same problems as other urban centers, but on a smaller scale. Is there a sense within the administration that progress can happen faster in New London and demonstrate the success of your education reforms?
Malloy: I think there is (that opportunity). There are some interesting things that are going on here. They may not have garnered as much support as the concepts themselves deserve, so I can assure you that (Education Commissioner) Stefan (Pryor) and his team are spending a lot of time working on approaches that hopefully would predict better results for the New London school-age population. I've visited schools here, as you know.
The Day: When you say some of the concepts have not garnered the support they deserve, are you referring to the Board of Education, maybe they haven't taken these opportunities with the enthusiasm you might hope they would?
Malloy: I think change is hard. I confront resistance to change all the time, and I think that New London obviously is now in a crisis and bad things can come out of a crisis, good things can come out of a crisis. We're trying to handle this crisis in such a way that better things happen.
But I don't have a magic pill for you yet because it hasn't been devised. But if you look at how my administration is allocating additional education dollars, of which there are $152 million in the next biennium budget, it is concentrating on the 30 low-performing districts, of which New London is one.