Gov. Dannel Malloy’s demeanor since winning the race for governor in November has been measured, polite and one of basic deference. From his stepping back to allow Republican Tom Foley to concede gracefully to including Republicans on his transition team and not squashing like a bug Democratic has-beens who criticized him for it, Malloy has made all the right moves. But he seems now willing to mix it up with national Republicans on the subject of state debt, the bond markets and how to deal with both. The feistiness, at least in The Shad’s opinion, is refreshing, particularly because there is going to be plenty of fighting to come on these and other issues, quite possibly with state legislative leaders in Malloy’s own Democratic party.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the darling of Republicans whose battle cry might as well be “Screw ‘em. We’ll do what we want,” appeared on FOX News Sunday extolling the virtues of supposed “straight talk.” Christie and other Republicans have talked about possibly allowing states to default on their debt as a way to avoid federal bailouts—if it comes to that. Malloy slapped Christie around in a recent editorial board meeting with The Day of New London. “When Republican members of the Congress talk about allowing states to go bankrupt –changing the bankruptcy law to allow states to go bankrupt –what do you think the reaction’s going to be in the bond market? These are, in my opinion, dangerous statements to be making, and the people who are making them should be held accountable.”
Gov. Christie has in the past and again on national TV yesterday, taken an extremely tough stand against public employee unions, particularly teachers. FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace ran the now-famous clip of Christie telling a teacher that if she didn’t like the wages and benefits she was getting then she could leave the job. Malloy hinted Christie wasn’t taking the smartest approach. “Hopefully I take a slightly more intellectual approach to this discussion than Governor Christie has demonstrated…” Malloy told The Day. “There are proven economic theories about sustaining economic growth, and we ignore those theories that have proven themselves at our own peril…We’re going to see large-scale additional unemployment caused by governmental entities: local government and state government primarily, and perhaps the federal government,” he said. “Can you tell me what the impact of that is going to be on the recovery?” Malloy went on to say shrinking the size of state government is probably a good idea.
The upshot of all of this is that it seems that Malloy is more willing to engage in cuts in state services than Senate President Don Williams and Speaker of the House Chris Donovan might be, particularly the latter who is a well-known, go-to-mat-for-the-unions guy. Just how all this plays out remains to be seen.