There were a few of areas of agreement in an otherwise tense Connecticut gubernatorial debate, where the audience booed a couple of times. Ned Lamont and Bob Stefanowski agreed that there should be a better school-to-job pipeline to prepare students for job openings that currently exist. They also agreed that pre-existing conditions should continue to be covered in health care plans, no matter what happens in Washington. While they agreed that the state should not be bribing companies to stay, they differed on what to do to keep companies in Connecticut.
The debate opened with a question about bipartisanship. Stefanowski said that he knows how to deliver results and has common sense. Lamont says he will be different from Stefanowski and Malloy, will have an open door. Stefanowski said leadership is about consistency. The candidates then accused each other of pandering to polls.
When it comes to funding for UConn, Lamont said he is committed to education, but that schools are not teaching to the job openings. He wants to streamline operations. Stefanowski said he wants to make college more affordable, but that not every child is meant to go to college. He wants to look at a holistic approach to education. An audience member asked about stopping funding cuts to the Connecticut State University System in order to stop tuition hikes. Stefanowski said everyone has to be held accountable, shared services could be looked at, there will have to be belt-tightening an suggested pay-for-performance for teachers. Lamont said he would bring business in to help with curriculum to make sure students get jobs after school. In order to take on the Education Cost Sharing system, Lamont said it should be more needs-based. He also suggested forgiving student loans for teachers that go to work in the most distressed districts. Stefanowski says there needs to be more accountability, noting that Connecticut spends twice as much educating students but test scores are even with other states.
As for mandating towns to have more affordable housing stock, Stefanowski said the decision should be up to the municipalities. Lamont said a property tax deduction is needed.
While Malloy was brought up frequently, President Trump wasn't mentioned until more than half way through the debate. It came from Lamont after Stefanowski said he would be ok with the real estate conveyance tax being nixed. Lamont said the GOP used to be the part of fiscal conservatism.
The candidates were asked about implementing paid family and medical leave. Lamont said he would work with the CBIA and other business organizations to make Connecticut a place where young families can thrive. Stefanowski said Lamont will crush mid-sized businesses. He suggested encouraging people to voluntarily put away money, have an option for employer-matched giving and lowering taxes so people have more money in their paychecks.
There were a few questions about the Affordable Care Act and the cost of prescription drugs. Stefanowski said there needs to be more competition and people should be able to buy insurance plans across state lines. He added that the answer is the free market, not another government program. Lamont countered that the free market isn't and won't hold down prices. He wants the state to use purchasing power, especially when it comes to state employee plans. Lamont said he would protect contraception coverage. Stefanowski gave no answer on contraceptive coverage protections.