Of the dozen or so candidates raising dough for a gubernatorial run in 2018, one of them–or perhaps another unnamed–will have a mighty mess on his/her hands to fix fiscally upon taking office in January 2019. The other night at the Connecticut Democratic Party’s annual dinner, CT Mirror reporter Kyle Constable questioned five Democratic candidates who have formed candidate or exploratory committees for a governor’s run in 2018, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, former Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection Jonathan Harris, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo and former chief of the Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office Chris Mattei, a Bridgeport attorney.
The candidates all responded to the same questions. Here’s how Ganim answered:
Given the state’s budgetary crisis, why would you want to be the one leading Connecticut as governor through these difficult fiscal times?
Well hopefully, being able to look at some of the experience I’ve had taking Bridgeport twice from fiscal mess to balanced budgets – I think there’s some experience there. I’m not saying I have all the answers, [just] some experience that I hope, from working with others, can help benefit the state. I applaud the efforts that are being made right now at the state level trying to balance the budget and all that. But I think I can bring some experience and hopefully a new perspective that will benefit Connecticut.
What budgetary items or ideas would you say are “off limits” for cutting if you were guiding the legislature in crafting a budget?
I’m biased to a certain extent, knowing the challenges our cities have and that we’ve neglected our cities–and looking at the challenge Hartford has. But any major city is one step away from–could be one budget away from where Hartford is. I think anything that would shortchange the most vulnerable, that would–in this case, most of them are in cities–that would hurt cities and towns, but especially the big cities that are shouldering the burden. That would be something that would be unacceptable. And I hope this governor finds it unacceptable as well, and he’s said that. So I applaud that. And the leadership in the legislature has said that as well, so hopefully we’re all going to come out with something that helps our cities.
What revenue options should be on the table? Income tax and sales tax? Tolls, legalizing and taxing marijuana, new casinos?
I think looking at those is important. They made some changes with casinos. I don’t know quantitatively how much that’s going to be. That’s another revenue source. I think we’ve long passed the moral argument of who’s in favor or against gambling. I think, collectively, I think that’s where we are. I may be wrong, but that’s how I view it. I also think that you can’t cut cities and towns to the point where you’re just going to raise property taxes. That, I think, should be a non-starter because that’s the most regressive tax. And the over-reliance on property taxes to fund local government and public education is just a ridiculous formula.
See answers from other contenders here.
On the Republican side, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, a Bridgeport resident, are among the candidates raising money for 2018. Others may jump in.