EXCLUSIVE: Mike Handler, Gov Candidate: “Our State’s Fiscal Health Is on Life Support”October 17, 2017
Mike Handler entered the governor's race in July. He talks to Reclaim Connecticut about the budget crisis, pensions, Stamford, and more.
Mike Handler didn’t leave any mystery as to why he’s running for governor.
“Our state’s fiscal health is on life support,” he said in a Monday interview with Reclaim Connecticut.
“I’m the proud father of four daughters,” Handler later said. And he wants to build – or rebuild – a state where his and others’ “children can return home.”
Reclaim Connecticut asked Handler about the budget crisis, pensions, his experience in Stamford, and more. Our highlights are below.
Asked about the first thing he would do if elected governor, Handler suggested he would focus on cutting spending.
“I would stop approaching the budget as if we’ve got a revenue problem,” Handler said. “I would focus on the spending side of the budget.”
When Reclaim Connecticut asked Handler about the tolls discussion, he didn’t equivocate: “I will not discuss any new forms of revenue.”
Reclaim Connecticut followed up with a question about Connecticut’s long-term spending – pension and state employee health obligations, for just two – and Handler said he would have a discussion with state employees about what needs to change.
“First, I would start by acknowledging that we’re not doing our state employees any favors” under the current system, Handler said. “We need to find a path towards moving our infrastructure more closely towards the private-sector benefits.”
Handler added he would “educate and share my thoughts with employees, much like I’ve done in the city of Stamford.”
Handler argued his experience as an administrative director in Stamford gives him the tools needed to balance Connecticut’s budget.
“When I first got to Stamford in 2012,” Handler said, there were a “series of issues.”
- “Operating businesses we never should have been in”
- “Very rich employee benefits that were also equally unfunded”
- “A balance sheet that had spiking debt service at inexplicable times, always after the next election”
- And, Handler said, “no real reserves”
How did Handler fix it?
“Fixing our balance sheet, negotiating our contracts, right-sizing our benefits to our employees, but then again committing and fully funding them,” he said.
When asked about the campaign trail, Handler argued he has “tremendous momentum,” telling Reclaim Connecticut he just passed the halfway mark in qualifying contributions.
“People are concerned, and rightfully so,” Handler concluded. “I think our message is resonating with people.”
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