In a political climate with a chorus for cutting, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is underscoring that he's going a different way.
"We need to argue our case," he told a regional planning gathering in New York City on Friday. "This is not a time to be timid."
He said decisions not to invest in infrastructure — roads, bridges, transit and electrical grids —is "where the most damage is being done in our country."
Without naming names, Malloy blamed "governor after governor, legislature after legislature," for making short-sighted decisions,b but noted, "I'm more than happy, even as I decry what's happening in our nation, to put in my bid to get any dollars Florida or New Jersey or any other state wants to send back to Washington."
He spoke at the annual gathering of the Regional Plan Association, a research and planning advocacy group focused on New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Malloy urged other decision makers to continue investing, "never considering the expense of an item as too great as to hold back a generation of growth for this region."
At a time when Connecticut faces the highest per capita deficit in the country, "we've gone in our own direction," Malloy said. Along with asking for $1 billion in givebacks from the state's unionized workers, he's proposed $1.38 billion in new taxes or increases, including a higher "gas tax, so we don't have a deficit in the dollars that we need for transportation."
Although only 100 days into his first term, Malloy has already gotten first-hand experience about eventual impacts of cutting transportation funding. Service cuts that plagued the Metro North commuter line this winter can be traced back to the state's decision not to invest in new cars ten years ago.
Despite the tough talk, the Connecticut governor has backed off on some of his initial tax proposals. After steady public criticism, he announced this week that he has withdrawn his proposal to eliminate the state's $500 property tax rebate, and now supports a $300 rebate instead.