The frontrunner in the Democratic primary for governor, Ned Lamont, was late to the first televised debate Friday.
An NBC Connecticut make-up artist was waiting for him in the lobby when he arrived, but he refused to be touched up before rushing into the studio where he made it in time to answer the first question.
After the debate he explained that he ran into both construction and an accident on the Merritt Parkway.
“Tom at some point I hope you ask me about transportation cause I’m loaded for bear on that issue right now,“ Lamont said before answering the first question.
Not unlike last night’s Republican debate the $3 billion budget deficit the next governor will inherit dominated the discussion.
Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, who is 10 points behind Lamont in the polls, said his first act as governor would be to cut the political staff by 15 percent.
“There is a revenue component to the problems we’re in, but there’s a spending component, and there’s an efficiency component,” Malloy said. “We need a laser-like focus on job creation, creating efficiencies in state government, and living within our means.”
Juan Figueroa, the only candidate who is bypassing the nominating convention and petitioning onto the ballot, said a progressive income tax isn’t the only source of revenue the state should be looking at when it’s talking about progressive taxation. He talked about taxing the profits of electrical generators and the bonuses of executives who received taxpayer money as part of the Wall Street bailout.
The state is looking very seriously at how to tighten its belt on the spending side, but Figueroa argued it also should be looking at generating revenue.
At least a few of the other candidates seemed to disagree.
“Before we talk about taxes I think we have to convince some very skeptical taxpayers that the money they are sending to Hartford is being well-spent,” Lamont said.
“I think we have a credibility problem in Connecticut,“ First Selectwoman Mary Glassman said. “One of the reasons we’re losing jobs is because there’s no predictability.“
“Before we look at raising taxes, or raising revenues, I think we have to look at how we’re spending our money,” Glassman said.
Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura agreed with Lamont on the issue of taxes.
“We have not earned the right to talk about raising taxes,” he said. “Nobody on this podium, and nobody last night, Democrat or Republican has earned the right to talk about raising revenue from the people of the state of Connecticut yet.”
The mayor from the Brass City talked about how Connecticut has increased taxes on the wealthy down in the southwestern portion of the state and took it for granted that they would stay and pay.
“They have abused the Gold Coast. The golden goose that laid the egg,” Jarjura said.
Jarjura said he was against mandating private employers to pay sick leave for their employees because “this issue should not be before the General Assembly or the people of the state of Connecticut at this time.”
“There’s no question we’re all for these progressive ideas,” Jarjura said. “But we don’t have to be a hammer on the backs of private industry.”
Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, who seems to be famous now for his advocacy of highway tolls, said paid sick leave is a tough issue.
“I believe yes, people do deserve the right to have paid sick leave,” he said. “If we want paid sick leave for people we need to sit down and figure out a way to fund it. We need to work with the private sector to come up with a funding mechanism. We cannot continually push mandates like this on the private sector or municipalities.”
“I honestly believe we need to be shrinking our government,” Marconi said earlier on during the debate. “We need to be begin looking at the potential for consolidation of various agencies…We also need to look at revenues and by that I mean tolls.”
And like last night with the eight Republican candidates a question about the death penalty also deviated into a discussion about the state budget.