As Connecticut officials craft the state budget and students study for midterms, Gov. Dannel Malloy and nearly 40 students met in the Branford Common Room on Wednesday evening to discuss states’ roles under President Donald Trump’s administration and Connecticut’s current political climate.
To kick off the event, Malloy answered questions from Yale College Democrats President Josh Hochman ’18 on Connecticut’s role in countering the Trump administration’s policies and discussed how legislators can craft progressive policies in the state while facing a severe budget deficit. In his responses to those and other attendees’ questions, Malloy touched on themes of resistance to the Trump administration, such as states offering funding in areas the federal government chooses to cut, as well as the need to face policy problems, such as the state’s current budget, with a realistic mindset.
“We need to step into the void that may be created with [spending cuts on programs],” Malloy said. “These situations are driven by bad public policy, which is driven by bad politics.”
Malloy criticized cuts to Planned Parenthood and said the state would try to appropriate additional funds to the organization if the Republican-controlled Congress decided to stop federal funding for the nonprofit. Pointing out that millions of Americans would lose health coverage under Congress’s recently proposed American Health Care Act, Malloy said it is important for states like Connecticut to continue their own best practices of medical coverage.
The conversation then honed in on Connecticut, as attendees asked about increasing revenue for the state and funding for educational policy. Malloy paired the two ideas and said money that remains after the budget is in its final stages should be redirected to education, especially to schools with impoverished students.
“Educating a kid well in an urban, poor environment is more expensive than educating a kid whose parents have a college education,” Malloy said.
Still, he remained realistic: When someone in the crowd asked about tuition-free community college, Malloy said that given the state’s current economic outlook, such a policy would remain infeasible for the next several years.
Another student asked about the proposed lift of nonprofit hospitals’ property tax-exempt status to alleviate budget difficulties.
“This concept of a nonprofit hospital hasn’t been destroyed by government, it’s been destroyed by hospitals themselves,” Malloy said, referencing the rising multimillion-dollar salaries of hospital executives.
As the night wore on, talk switched to climate change, energy and the environment. Malloy said Connecticut continues to boast high environmental regulation standards and should continue its move away from coal and heating oil to natural gas, solar power and other renewable energy.
Despite displeasure with many in the Trump administration, in response to a guest question, Malloy said “good people” still remained in the federal bureaucracy, including those who have leaked information about the Trump White House in the past weeks.
The governor ended the night by pitching public service as a lifestyle to the attendees — a career that events like Malloy’s talk are supposed to inspire students to pursue.
“These events are to show people what the political landscape is like, to get people engaged in Connecticut and national politics,” said Keera Annamaneni ’20, the Dems’ communications director. “To show them how to get involved and the different avenues they can be involved in.”
Hochman added that the Malloy event drew many guests outside of the Dems’ traditional member base.