Foley would not take a salary as governor

Tom Foley knows how to cut at least $150,000 in state spending: He pledges to forgo a salary if elected governor.

Foley, an independently wealthy businessman who is the early frontrunner for the Republican nomination, makes the pledge in “A Plan Forward for Connecticut” posted Wednesday night on his campaign web site.

As for as how he would close the rest of a projected $3 billion state budget shortfall that the next governor will face in 2011, well, call that a work in progress.

Foley also announced he is airing his first television commercials since switching races from U.S. Senate to governor. In 30- and 60-second versions, Foley strikes the same tone as his plan, offering broad goals and principles, not specific policies.

The entire script of the 30-second spot:

“Wherever I go in Connecticut I hear the same thing: we need more jobs. For twenty-five years I have helped turn companies around. It’s hard work, but when it is done, the future is more promising. Hartford is broken and broke. I have a plan to fix it. We can bring new and better jobs here. We can cut back wasteful spending. We can reduce the tax burden on working families – and we will change Hartford. Lets get to work.”

His plan promises to cut state spending and reduce the tax burden on working families, but it is short on details. Instead, it outlines a process to make those changes.

“I will find and eliminate any wasteful or duplicative spending,” he says in the plan.

Foley said he would work with the contractors who provide care and services for the state to cut costs by 5 percent without a reduction in levels of care. He said he also will expand the use of outside contractors if they can provide better services or lower costs than the state.

He also would cut Medicaid costs by “promoting wellness programs, capping medical malpractice claims, and negotiating better contracts with providers.”

At $3.8 billion, Medicaid is the single largest account in the state’s $18.6 billion annual budget. But much of it goes for the care of the elderly in nursing homes, whose owners already are complaining that Medicaid reimbursement rates are too low.

The plan is Foley’s first attempt to frame his campaign to succeed Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who is not seeking re-election. On the day he announced, Foley took few questions from reporters and promised that his vision for Connecticut would unfold in coming weeks.

Foley, who is the former ambassador to Ireland, and Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele are the two leading candidates in a Republican field that is about to grow. R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel, the president and chief executive of the Metro Hartford Alliance, is announcing his candidacy at noon Thursday. Lawrence DeNardis, a former congressman, also is exploring a run.

In addition to doing without a salary, Foley promised to eliminate deputy commissioner positions and cut the budget of the governor’s office by 10 percent. He reiterated his intention to privately finance his campaign.

“I don’t believe a candidate for governor can credibly stand for reducing the cost and size of government if they begin by accepting $4.5 million of taxpayer money to pay for a campaign,” Foley said.

Qualifying gubernatorial candidates who participate in the voluntary public-financing program are eligible for $1.25 million for a primary and $3 million for the general-election campaign.