Malloy Uses Indiana Law, State Budget, Transportation Projects to Beef Up His DNC Resume

This column appears in the April 9 – 16 edition of the Hartford News…

Gov. Dannel Malloy spent last week as the lead Democratic Party voice against the homophobic Indiana ‘Religious Freedom’ law, which was signed and defended with vociferous intensity by Republican Gov. Mike Pence until national outrage forced him to backpedal. Malloy signed an executive order banning state funded travel to Indiana, host of the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. Malloy also appeared on MSNBC to denounce the law. He did a one-on-one interview on Morning Joe. The main event was his Hardball steel cage match against MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. I was struck by Malloy denouncing Pence for failing to get Indiana GOP lawmakers to treat their citizens fairly.

After running his mouth on national TV about how elected officials should demonstrate integrity in the policy decisions that they make, Malloy gave an interview to the Connecticut Mirror. He said that legislators can forget restoring his draconian $25 million human services cuts, due to the constitutional spending cap. That was news to Appropriations Committee co-chair Rep. Toni Walker. Mirror Budget Reporter Keith Phaneuf talked about the routine practice by both the Democrats and Republicans of legally circumventing the cap. “While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy portrayed the spending cap Thursday as an unavoidable constraint on the next state budget, governors and legislators from both parties have skirted that constraint repeatedly for a decade. Leaders of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee can’t understand why both Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican legislative leaders are attacking their efforts to move more state spending outside of the constitutional cap to preserve social services. With the state’s dysfunctional cap crippled for nearly a decade, critics argue, legally exceeding the cap — or moving funds outside that system — has become standard operating procedure, and none should feign shock or surprise. Since 2011, the Democratic governor has proposed or signed into law hundreds of millions of dollars in fiscal maneuvers to shift spending out from under the cap. And GOP lawmakers have short memories, committee leaders say, having voted overwhelmingly to adopt a 2007 budget that shattered the cap by almost $700 million — a record in the cap’s 25-year history. ‘It’s the same thing we’ve been doing for years and years, and now, all of a sudden, nobody seems to take that into account,’ Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, told The Mirror on Thursday. ‘People use the cap when it is convenient,’ added Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, the panel’s other co-chair.”

At least 12 human services providers, including the Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain, CT (SSC’s executive director is Mary Sanders, a Community Party member) face closure on July 1 if the Connecticut General Assembly does not restore Malloy’s cuts. The Bristol Press interviewed Mary, who talked about how funding cuts have hurt SSC. “It gets harder and harder to have people fund your services, especially during poor economic times. There was a time in the late 1970s and 1980s when there was a lot of money for training and employee related services. It’s dried up.” Malloy’s fairness comment about Pence rings hollow due to the fact that his budget endangers the state’s most vulnerable residents, who are already underserved due to years of human services funding cuts. What’s especially disturbing about Malloy’s scorched earth budget proposal is that Malloy grew up as a special needs person. He knows firsthand the obstacles that individuals with special needs face, and the importance of human services. Due to his dyslexia, Malloy read and studied using audio books for the blind. Malloy would not be where he is today without human services. However Malloy is a corporatist who must protect the interests of the wealthy and big businesses, at the expense of the working class and the poor. Malloy’s out of control ego and obvious political ambition are also clearly factors in his suddenly rigid budget stance.

The Democratic National Committee is grooming Malloy for a more high profile role in 2016, when Hillary Clinton most likely will be the party nominee in the presidential election. In December Malloy was named chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Courant reporter Chris Keating explained Malloy’s duties as DGA chairman. “The political position will allow Malloy to take a place on the national stage and participate in the all-important fundraising effort to try to get Democratic governors elected in a presidential election year.” Last month Malloy laughed off Face the State host Dennis House’s question about him being on a list of possible candidates to be Clinton’s running mate, but it’s clear that he is gunning for a spot in her administration, if she is elected. Malloy may have his eye on the Cabinet Secretary of Transportation position. That would explain CT Fastrak and Malloy launching a 30-year, $100 billion transportation project that the state currently does not have the money to pay for.

Malloy is trying to portray himself as a man of action. That’s what folks do when they know that their bosses are watching. Malloy has adopted the George Costanza model as his approach to governing: look annoyed while actually doing nothing. Malloy may appear as if he is doing a lot, but his policies are clearly self-serving. His unconscionable position on the budget is an attempt to appear decisive to the DNC. Malloy’s transportation crusade is a ploy to show the DNC kingmakers that he’s a go-getter. The suffering that Malloy is causing among human services clients, advocates, caregivers and dedicated nonprofit workers such as Mary with his budget proposal is collateral damage. I have talked to folks on the left who have the power to mobilize people against Malloy’s budget. They won’t do it, because they’re afraid of offending the Democrats. I will continue to have conversations. If a Republican rolled out this budget, folks would march on the State Capitol. Malloy will be on a plane to Washington if Clinton becomes the next President of the United States. Unless community residents and sincere activists push back and hold Malloy accountable, he will leave the wreckage of an already shredded safety net in his wake.

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David Samuels


Community Party

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