By Ed Harris
Education, jobs and taxes were the main topics of a speech Gov. Dannel Malloy gave to the Southington Rotary Club last week. Many of the ideas Malloy talked about are included in his proposed budget for the state.
One of the Rotarians had connections with Gov. Malloy’s office and was able to secure the governor’s visit, Southington Rotary President Joanne Alfieri said. The governor spoke to the rotary for about a half hour and then took a few questions.
“It’s a point of pride for us,” Alfieri said of Malloy’s visit.
In regards to education, Malloy talked about investing in the student, as well as in the education system. He talked about making pre-k more affordable, employing programs to get former students back into college and modernizing things within the state’s colleges, including UConn and the four regional universities.
Malloy noted that he had just previously given a speech on the modernization of the state’s college system while in Manchester. The modernization plan would cost $134 million, Malloy said.
“That’s an investment that I hope will be, that I now will be supported by our business community,” Malloy said.
Malloy said that 80 percent of the students that attend college in Connecticut stay in the state after graduation. Improving the system is an investment in the state, he said.
Supplementing the investment in colleges, Malloy also talked about his Go Back to Get Ahead program. This program is designed for college students that have been out of school for 18 months or more. It would allow for one free course for every course that the student takes, with a cap of six courses.
“Many folks can finish their degrees for about half the cost,” Malloy said.
Utilizing various programs, including many designed for small businesses, Malloy said that he had helped to created about 40,000 private sector jobs in Connecticut during his time as governor. Malloy also added that the state had made various investments in 1,600 businesses in the state.
“We’re getting our economic house in order,” Malloy said.
One of the programs that Malloy highlighted was the Step Up program. This program is meant to help the long-term unemployed and helps a business partially subsidize the cost of training new employees for six months. Malloy said this program had helped 2,000 people return to the workforce.
Malloy said the state currently has a $500 million surplus. The governor plans to give back $155 million of the surplus to state residents. Another $270 million was placed in the state’s rainy day fund and another $100 million was used towards making an extra payment towards pension obligations.
“We have a surplus, I think you should share in that surplus,” Malloy said, noting that everyone would receive $55 back, or $110 for couples.
Malloy also mentioned taxes briefly. He called for cutting taxes, including the restoration of the deductible clothing allowance, rolling back the tax on nonprescription pharmacy products and other adjustments.
Some of the questions Malloy fielded after his speech included the possibility of an online high school that could help with GEDs and home schooling, tolls on the roadways and veteran homelessness.