Former U.S. Comptroller General and candidate for Governor took some time out of his busy day to answer a couple of questions. See below.
Connecticut Commentary: In your campaign literature, you style yourself a “turnaround specialist,” and your background suggests you have walked the walk. You served as Comptroller General of the United States for 10 years under three different presidents, Reagan, Bush (41) and Clinton, during which time you “led a widely praised transformation of the GAO and spearheaded related efforts for the accountability community both domestically and internationally.” The state of Connecticut certainly could use a CPA governor who can add one and one and get two. Other governors have in the past more or less fudged the numbers through overly optimistic revenue projections and outright thievery – by flitching money from so called “lock boxes” and using the loot to balance chronically out of balance budgets, relieving the pressure, such as it is, on the General Assembly to reduce spending. Politics, not rational economic decisions, are driving these revenue distortions. How will someone like yourself, who has little experience dealing with the personalities and interests that shape Connecticut politics, manage to turn around Connecticut?
Walker: Connecticut is badly broken and it needs a proven problem solver who is not a professional politician but who has a successful track record in transforming government. I will turn around Connecticut because I have the demonstrated experience to transform large government organizations when I led the federal GAO. Under my leadership we saved federal taxpayers over $300 BILLION. I am confident that if we can make the federal government more efficient we can do the same for Connecticut. Frankly, the people of Connecticut are fed up with the politics as usual and are yearning for change. They are eager for a professional problem solver to get to work. When we win the Governorship we will have a mandate to deliver common-sense reforms to save our state. I am committed to saving Connecticut.
I have conducted extensive research and outreach activities since moving to Connecticut a number of years ago, including my time as head of the Comeback America Initiative based in Bridgeport, CT. I have traveled all over the state engaging with business, professional, political and community leaders as well as with the general public in my various professional (e.g., Comeback America Initiative, CSCPA), community service (e.g., Rotary) and other activities.
Importantly, I have already demonstrated my ability to effectively address various interest groups in my past government, private sector and non-profit activities. In addition, I have a proven track record of making every organization that I have led in the public, private and non-profit sectors more future focused and results oriented. For example, my responsibilities as Comptroller General involved the entire scope of the U.S. Government, the entire U.S. Congress, and heads of accountability organizations at the international, federal, state and local levels of government.
Connecticut Commentary: It would be a considerable understatement to say that leading Republicans are dissatisfied with the policies of Governor Dannel Malloy. To touch on just one point: When Malloy achieved office back in 2011, the first Democrat governor since Bill O’Neill, he quickly put Republicans in the legislature in Coventry. All his budgets were hammered out after consultation with Democrat legislative leaders and, of course, unions, regarded by some as Connecticut’s fourth branch of government. You would reform some statutes that surrender legislative authority to union heads. What are those statutes and, in view of the calamitous condition of the state’s economy, what are the prospects for successful reform?
Walker: Connecticut’s current SEBAC agreement and several of its labor laws are unreasonable, uncompetitive and unsustainable. Connecticut cannot wait until 2027 to address the issues covered by the SEBAC agreement (e.g., pension and health care benefits, anti-layoff provisions). I am committed to addressing these issues in an equitable manner. This involves a number of steps, including overriding the current SEBAC agreement using the sovereign power of the state, if necessary; restricting the scope of bargaining to exclude pension and health care benefits; reducing the allowable length of bargaining agreements, and; reforming current arbitration and prevailing wage rules.
I am conducting an issue-based, solutions-oriented and referendum-style campaign that is designed to help elect and install a Connecticut Turnaround Team and create a referendum for action. This includes electing Republicans as Governor, in several other Constitutional offices, and taking control of the State Senate and House. It also includes selecting a top flight cabinet based on merit. In traveling around Connecticut it is clear to me that the people of this great state know that the status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable. They want a proven problem solver who can take steps from Day 1 in office to put our state’s finances in order and make other needed reforms. The voters’ desires are well aligned with my background and campaign approach.