MANSFIELD – Connecticut’s six gubernatorial candidates faced their version of the lightning round during this morning’s forum sponsored by the Windham Region Chamber of Commerce.

Given only 30 seconds to answer most questions about economy, transportation, the state budget crisis, energy, tourism, health care and other complex topics, Democrats Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont, Republicans Tom Foley, Michael Fedele and Oz Griebel, and independent Tom Marsh were tested in their ability to deliver the quick sound bite.

What’s behind the state’s budget crisis?”

“Too many layers of management, too many layers of cronies,” said Lamont.

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Gubernatorial candidates answer questions at a business forum in Mansfield. (Keith M. Phaneuf)

“Tell the truth,” Malloy offered, referring to a budget system that underestimates state government’s debts and too frequently relies on one-time funds to cover recurring costs. “We need to draw a line in the sand.

How can Connecticut attract more business? Try cleaning up its fiscal mess, according to Foley. “Until that’s resolved, businesses are not going to be comfortable here.”

Griebel ran out of time trying to summarize an energy strategy centered on allowing major utilities to generate power once again. “This is an interesting format,” he said.

Fedele, who quipped that the rapid-fire program “feels like speed dating here,” said the key to expanding health care access is simple: “I think the whole thing is bringing that cost down.”

Is there anything good about state government is spending $1 on statewide tourism promotion this year?

“It means we’re not blowing a bunch of money,” Marsh said, adding Connecticut should invest more in regional promotion efforts.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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