Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — Following his last state Bond Commission meeting, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy talked about the progress the state has made in growing the economy, and he offered at least one regret.

Over this past year, he said the Department of Economic and Community Development has assisted 100 companies that have promised to retain 24,000 jobs and create an additional 11,000 jobs. He said that’s real and substantial progress and contributes to the 100,000 private sector jobs created over the past eight years.

But that’s not always the message that’s conveyed by the business community.

Malloy’s one regret is that he was unable to convince the business community to present an optimistic view of Connecticut.

“I wish I’d been able to make allies in the business community understand that their constant bad mouthing of the state was hurting our desire — their desire — to make the state a stronger attraction to out-of-state employers,” Malloy said.

He said when candidates for governor said Connecticut was losing jobs and population, “it was a self-defeating criticism when we repeat untruths about the state.”

However, Connecticut Business and Industry Association President and CEO Joe Brennan said he was not in agreement with Malloy’s perception.

“I disagree with the premises that we’re bad mouthing the state of Connecticut,” Brennan said, adding that Connecticut has enormous economic potential, and he believes in being positive about those policies. But he said it’s also necessary to be “credible.”

Over the past 10 years, from 2007 to 2017, Connecticut’s real Gross Domestic Product has declined 9.2 percent when adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis by Don Klepper-Smith of DataCore Partners.

“We have a great quality of life and a great location,” Brennan said. “We just need better policy choices.”

Malloy believes he made those choices and the economy is responding, just not as quickly as he would have liked.

As of November, the Connecticut Department of Labor reported that Connecticut has recovered 114.2 percent of the private sector jobs lost during the Great Recession. However, based on job reductions in government, total employment has not completely recovered and is only at 90.4 percent.

“I am proud that Connecticut has fewer municipal employees and state employees than it did on the day I became governor,” Malloy said. “We needed to downsize. We needed to make ourselves more efficient.”

He suggested asking Connecticut taxpayers whether they think their government should be bigger. He said state government is 13 percent smaller than it was when he was sworn into office in January 2011.

While Governor-elect Ned Lamont and the new General Assembly will be forced to immediately tackle a $1.5 billion deficit and a more than $2 billion deficit the following year, Malloy believes he’s handing over a state in better shape than he found it.

There’s going to be $2 billion in the Rainy Day Fund to help weather what could be another recession.

Asked how he would advise Lamont to handle a recession, Malloy said “a recession is not an excuse to stop investing in the state. In fact, it’s a good time to invest in the state.”

He said borrowing for these types of investments is cheaper during a recession.

As far as the need for Connecticut to provide loans and tax credits to companies threatening to leave the state or looking to relocate to the state, Malloy said he hasn’t had a conversation about it with Governor-elect Ned Lamont, but that he believes he understands the need for it.

“I think it is something the governor-elect has a good understanding of,” Malloy said. “The least of which was an introduction he made with respect to Infosys and was part of a process of bringing that company here.”

Infosys is the tech firm from India that recently opened offices in Hartford and will be working with companies in the insurance, healthcare, and manufacturing industries.

In Malloy’s first year in office he was able to broker a bipartisan deal that helped create the Small Business Express Program and give Jackson Labs $291 million in state assistance. The genomic lab has already paid back the loan and created 385 jobs, which is more than what was required under the agreement.

The Small Business Express Program has given $321.3 million in loans and grants to 1,966 businesses. This resulted in the creation of 8,287 jobs and the retention of 21,698 jobs.

The 2011 jobs legislation also created an incentive program for companies promising to create more than 250 jobs over a short period of time. It was called the “First Five” program and it was expanded to 15 companies.

As of the end of 201,7 the program had given 15 companies $321.6 million in Manufacturing Act Assistance funds and $160 million in urban reinvestment credits. Those companies, according to DECD, retained and created 26,000 jobs. Alexion is not one of those 15 companies because they left for Boston and repaid the state assistance.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy following his last Bond Commission meeting

Posted by on Tuesday, December 11, 2018