Gubernatorial candidates Tom Foley and Dan Malloy brought unemployment and education to the forefront of the gubernatorial race as they faced off in a heated debate Friday at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich.
Foley, a Greenwich Republican, said he is an outsider in politics. "We are one of two states since 1989 that has had no job growth. Michigan has an excuse, we don't," he said, highlighting his experience as a businessman. "The core of the problem is that we have raised the cost of doing business on employers and made it inconvenient for them to conduct business in the state."
Malloy, former longtime Democratic mayor of Stamford, said, "We are dead last in job retention, and we need to turn that around." He told the crowd of about 200 people at the debate, sponsored by the Greenwich, Stamford and Norwalk chambers of commerce, that is it time to focus on jobs in technical manufacturing and financial services. "We need to reopen the spigot of jobs moving to Connecticut from New York," he said.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows Foley closing in on Malloy, who now leads his opponent 45 percent to 42 percent among likely voters. The two traded barbs, also disagreeing on transportation, taxes, the state budget deficit and education, among other issues.
When asked how to narrow the achievement gap among students, Foley proposed a statewide grading program for schools. "Schools that are failing need to be reconstituted," he said. "Teachers that aren't performing at grade level need to be retrained."
Malloy disputed Foley's accusation that he is too chummy with teacher unions. "We need to explore doing things differently, including tenure changes," said Malloy. "I was known as the education mayor, and I'd like to be known as the education governor."
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