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[January 16, 2013]
Malloy sees no new taxes this year
NORWICH, Jan 16, 2013 (The Day - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told a crowd of business people today at the Holiday Inn Norwich that he plans to present a balanced budget to the legislature Feb. 5 with no tax increases, though he may extend some levies the state had previously imposed on a temporary basis.
Malloy, speaking to 260 people at a Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut breakfast, said he already raised taxes once during his administration and he didn't want to do so again. Instead, he said he has been working to streamline state government and gain concessions from unions to reduce long-term obligations on retirement benefits and other issues.
Total savings related to state benefits will be $26.6 billion over a two-decade period, he said.
"We've done a lot of work in state government to modernize it and make it smaller," he said.
Malloy said there are currently 1,200 fewer state workers than when he took office two years ago.
At the same time, Malloy said he has been investing in technology to make government more efficient. As an example, the state is investing $250 million to upgrade its more than 20-year-old Department of Social Services computer system that still required manual labor to analyze potential fraud, he said.
"It has to be done, and it should have been done years ago," he said.
Connecticut also has embarked on an ambitious program to jump-start the economy and create jobs, Malloy said. New initiatives include the Small Business Express and First Five programs that provide funding for both large and small businesses as well as the Innovations Ecosystem that attempts to jump start new businesses by linking great ideas with the capital to get them off the ground, he said.
While previous administrations had neglected to fight for Connecticut jobs, the state under Malloy's administration has provided help to more than 500 companies, including 42 in eastern Connecticut. The $11 million local investment has led to 400 jobs being secured, added or retained in the region, he said.
"We were actually sitting on the sidelines watching people take our companies ... out of state," Malloy said. "On economic development, we had no strategy in Connecticut." Part of Malloy's strategy has been to improve Connecticut's education system as well. Malloy said he is working with the University of Connecticut to increase the number of engineers that the system can educate, while at the same time helping local school systems turn around and taking a more proactive approach to early education.
Malloy said he also has been trying to make investments in state tourism promotion, though his initial $15 million annual budget was cut significantly in the second year of his administration. Tourism, he acknowledged, is very important to eastern Connecticut, but some legislators in other sections of the state still don't get that a tourism marketing campaign eventually pays for itself.
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