WILTON, Conn. – Creating a plan and executing it has helped Connecticut take steps forward in terms of jobs and energy savings, Gov. Dannel Malloy told Fairfield County business leaders Tuesday night.
Malloy talked about some of the accomplishments of his first two years in office as the guest speaker at the Wilton Chamber of Commerce annual dinner. He also mentioned what has to be done to keep improving.
“What we’re trying to do is understand what our weaknesses are and address them and what our strengths are and, for lack of a better term, maximize them,” the governor said.
Comparing the state’s future to what happened in Stamford during his mayoral terms, Malloy said Connecticut should “have a vision, execute it and do it day in and day out and hold people accountable for just that.”
Malloy said Connecticut needs the infrastructure to create and bring jobs to the state, including in the insurance industry. Malloy said the needs of the industry had been ignored, allowing for aspects of the business, such as captive insurance, to grow in other states, such as Vermont.
“I’ve had the audacity to say that insurance needs to be a growth industry in Connecticut again, and it will,” he said, noting the state is doing some “exciting things” to have companies return.
The governor said not having an energy plan or department focused on developing a long-term energy plan has led to high electricity rates and the lowest natural gas penetration rates for natural gas for homes and businesses. Malloy hopes to change the state’s penetration rate from the current 30 percent. Doing so, he said, would reduce energy costs and bring in new jobs. He also plans to use ideas from other states and ideas from the combined Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to lower electricity rates, which are down 12 percent, since he took office in January 2010.
“Natural gas is about one-third the price of oil and yet so many of our residents can’t access that,” he said. Malloy said expanding the distance from the main gas line to the meter from 150 feet to 250 feet would help make gas available to more people.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Malloy said one thing that could be done to prevent such extensive damage is having homes close to the shoreline built up higher so they sustain less water damage. Many homes built higher up, he said, did not take as much damage as lower-lying homes, which were flooded or badly damaged.
Malloy said he did not allow a planned $270 million cut in education aid to take effect as the burden for covering up gaps in funding would have to be made up through local property taxes.
The governor said education reform is also something that has to be improved in some of the state’s biggest cities. The state will have to find a way to replicate the model of the successful schools – including charter or magnet schools – in some of the lower-performing districts, he said.