The issue I worked on during my first few days in office is the same one I'll be dealing with throughout my tenure here — we need to make sure people know Connecticut is open for business.
Sure, I continued to fill out my administration and dealt with a blockbuster snowstorm dropping 30 inches of snow in some parts of the state, but eventually the positions will be filled and the snow will stop (hopefully). At the end of the day, we need to create new jobs by restructuring state government to lower the cost for taxpayers and reconnecting residents to a bureaucracy that, for too long, has been faceless.
We will make Connecticut more employer-friendly by lowering the cost of doing business with cheaper energy, rational regulation and turning state government into a partner the business community can rely on — instead of the impediment it's too often been. We will target industries that hold the greatest long-term prospects to be a sustainable source of quality jobs, and we will identify specific companies within those industries and pursue them.
We will work with and encourage existing employers to expand right here in Connecticut rather than migrating potential jobs elsewhere.
We cannot accomplish this by handling the state's finances the way they have been managed in previous years. The first step in fixing a problem is to admit you have one, and then to be painfully honest about its severity. We all know the dire condition of the state budget, so it does not serve anyone well to focus on redecorating the house while it is on fire. That is why my first official act as governor was to sign an executive order requiring the state to use generally accepted accounting principles (known as GAAP) — a standard financial reporting framework that compels state government to tell taxpayers the truth when it comes to how the state keeps its books.
Getting our fiscal house in order won't be easy. Given the magnitude of the crisis, it is clear that it will require all of us to make sacrifices. We will make rational reductions to state spending, and then we will need to consider and make painful cuts. Sharing in the sacrifice is the only way we're going to get to a place where we're sharing in the prosperity, too.
We can make a large down payment on a better, more fiscally sound future by restructuring state government. State government in Connecticut is too top-heavy and too top-down. Parts of it don't work well, and parts of it don't work well at all. When something is too expensive and broken at the same time, you know it's got to change.
We will take a measured, strategic approach that will likely lead to a reduction in the number of positions in state government, but not wholesale, irresponsible, irrational cuts. We will formulate a rethinking of government and the way it does the peoples' business.
Throughout all of this, I'm also going to continue talking to people. It came as a surprise to many last week when I stopped by the cafeteria in the Legislative Office Building to buy a cup of coffee or lunch, but it shouldn't have been. As mayor of Stamford for 14 years, I was used to being in direct touch with people. That something as simple as the governor walking into a cafeteria and talking to people he meets along the way generates news says more about our state government than it does about me. I will continue to be out in the real world, engaging people, staying connected and ensuring that I never forget for whom I work — the people of Connecticut.
As we pursue solutions for creating a viable long-term economy, stabilizing the state's budget crisis and restructuring government, we will at the same time continue to run a tight ship and remain vigilant in our rapid-response capabilities, just as we did in the snowstorm earlier this month.
In the time I occupy this office, I am determined to renew people's faith in their government. By focusing on creating jobs, getting our fiscal house in order, and restructuring state government, I'm confident the shared sacrifice I'll demand will get us to the shared prosperity we deserve.
Dannel P. Malloy is governor of Connecticut.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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