Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had good news today for what might be his most loyal constituency, telling municipal officials that he is confident of protecting local aid no matter what fiscal challenges confront him in the next fiscal year.

“It is our full expectation that we will honor our commitments already made to you, no matter how difficult those circumstances prove to be,” Malloy said, addressing the annual meeting of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

The audience at the Connecticut Convention Center interrupted him with applause.

After Malloy protected most local aid programs this year while his administration erased a deficit of more than $3 billion, CCM might be the most reliably friendly audience for a governor unpopular with much of the state, according to recent polling.

Malloy, who was mayor of Stamford for 14 years before his election as governor last year, said that passing on the state’s fiscal woes to cities and towns only would have forced property-tax increases.

He did not name the states, but he said if Connecticut had cut municipal aid in the same proportion as two larger nearby states–presumably, New York and New Jersey–he would have had to cut aid by between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

Malloy defended his budget, which has cost him. His approval rating was just 41 percent in the most recent Quinnipiac University poll. But he said his administration was intent on moving on.

“We are pivoting,” he said, pointing to the special legislative session on jobs called for later this month.

To frame the session, Malloy is hosting an economic summit Thursday at the convention center.

Malloy told the municipal officials what he has promised business leaders: State agencies under his administration will be quick to process permits and give officials answers they need.

“We’ll get rid of outdated regulations,” he said.

State government needs to be as responsive as local governments, he said.

“I promise you we’ll get better at what we do,” Malloy said

Malloy was greeted by a standing ovation as he entered the convention hall.

“Thank you for your leadership and not forgetting your municipal roots,” said Jim Finley, the executive director of CCM.

“You can go home again,” Malloy said.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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