Malloy upbeat on jobs session, not so much on economy

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says he is “invigorated” by the coming special session on jobs and encouraged by the bipartisan commitment he sees to improve the state’s economic climate. Just don’t ask him for a quick turnaround amidst an uncertain global economy.

“You’re not going to see instantaneous results,” Malloy said Monday after a meeting with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders. “This is about changing the climate, and we’re going to do that.”

Malloy Cafero

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr.

Malloy walked a tight line in a press conference after the meeting, saying everything is lined up for a productive special session of the General Assembly on the only political issue that matters in any U.S. time zone: jobs, jobs and jobs.

But he was just as fast to temper his optimism about the session with a realistic view of how much progress Connecticut can make if the national and international economies continue to stall.

“I can’t tell you when the national or international economy improves, but I can literally guarantee that as a result of this session, Connecticut will be in a better place to compete for the jobs that are created,” Malloy said. “And that’s why we’re doing this.”

Malloy, the first Democratic governor in 20 years, is backed in the legislature by solid Democratic majorities in each chamber, but he is intent on bipartisan approval of whatever emerges from the session.

One sign of his desire to keep Republicans in the fold: He showed no sign of annoyance at the GOP releasing its package two hours before the meeting and joint press conference, which might have been seen as one-upmanship.

Instead, Malloy professed to be encouraged by the substance of their proposals, which included tax credits for job creation and general tax relief for small businesses.

“Many of those we’ve considered. Many of those will be reflected in this package, as will many other people’s thoughts and ideas,” Malloy said.

Malloy also warned, however, that the state can reset fiscal priorities, but it is not in a position to embrace major new spending or losses of tax revenue.

“I don’t want to say that no spending recommendations will be made, but believe me, I’m cognizant of our limitations,” he said.

House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, who enjoys mixing it up with the governor, was asked if he saw the preparations as bipartisan.

“Thus far it has been, and we are confident it will continue to be. The governor’s staff and our respective staffs from all four caucuses got together last Thursday. We presented all of our ideas. There is a lot of overlap, a lot of common ground.”

Cafero said a bipartisan approach to jobs would send a positive message. Malloy offered a similar thought.

“I feel invigorated by the possibility of this session,” Malloy said. “I know that we are getting a lot of attention here in Connecticut about what we’re doing on economic development as well as putting our fiscal house in order, preparing to move forward on a job-retention and job-growth agenda and initiative.”

Earlier, Malloy announced details of a one-day economic conference that will help frame the issues for the special session.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, and Scott Case, a founder of Priceline, will headline Malloy’s economic conference on Oct. 6, putting a national gloss on a state initiative.

In the words of the Washington Post, Zandi is an economist who has emerged as the “go-to guy” for both parties to assess the impact of jobs proposals. Case, who now is CEO of the Startup America Partnership, kicked off a similar jobs summit called recently by the governor of Tennessee.

Malloy has been building towards an Oct. 26 special session with a summer-long jobs tour, overtures to legislative leaders in both parties, and, now, a daylong conference at the Connecticut Convention Center led by speakers and experts from outside government.

“We visited businesses, industry and labor groups and other stakeholders – people on the front lines of economic development,” Malloy said in an emailed statement earlier Monday. “Now we’ll listen to national experts and learn first-hand about ways in which we can lead in a 21st century economy.”