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Lamont goes on the attack against Stefanowski’s GE experience

BRIDGEPORT — Governor Ned Lamont responded Monday to criticism of his business acumen from political rival Bob Stefanowski, saying the Republican’s self-proclaimed experiences in cutthroat corporate culture have left him ill-equipped to handle state government. .

The war of words between the two candidates — two extremely wealthy businessmen — about their relative experiences in corporate leadership have intensified in recent weeks, with Stefanowski derisively comparing the running governor’s track record”a small cable companyto his own experience rising through the ranks at General Electric.

In an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media on Monday, Lamont defended his record with his former company, Lamont Digital Services, saying it left him grounded in the experiences of small business owners as well as his former employees — a trait that, according to him, was helpful in managing the state’s workforce of about 50,000 employees.

“Look, GE is awesome and if they fail they’re too big to fail and the the feds give them $130 billion then they go out and spend that, and then they fail again,” Lamont said. “So I’m not sure that’s the ideal work experience.”

It was not the first time that Lamont or his surrogates attacked Stefanowski’s corporate resumewhich includes stints as chief financial officer at UBS and managing director of Dollar Financial Corp., a payday loan company.

A advertisement released during the summer by a super-PAC funded by the Democratic Governors Association highlighted the 450% interest rates the company was charging some of its customers, accusing Stefanowski of making millions on “workers.” Lamont also repeatedly asked Stefanowski to release his client list from the years he spent working as a business consultant, what the republican refused to do.

Stefanowski, meanwhile, boasted much of his business experience, particularly the years he spent working under former GE CEO Jack Welch.

In a march grandstand published by the Hearst newspapers, Stefanowski argued that Lamont and other state leaders should emulate Welch’s “rigorous” management style, which included the elimination of underperforming employees each year. Stefanowski wrote that the state government has “an obligation to be as efficient with [taxpayer] the money as possible.

However, taking such an aggressive approach to state government risks unraveling vital programs that hundreds of thousands of residents rely on, Lamont said.

“You’re in big business in general, and you have a division that’s losing money, you can just cut it and kill it,” the governor said, citing the Department for Children and Families as an example. of a state agency that generates little revenue to offset the costs of its services.

“You need to reform it, you need to innovate, you need to modernize it, but I need this program,” he said. “It’s not just about putting them on the chopping block.”

Lamont said he learned lessons from his business career in the governor’s office, seeking to modernize state government by streamlining interagency communications and relocating many departments — from DMV appointments to commercial depots – on line. The final step in this effort, Lamont said, is to increase the efficiency of the Department of Social Services so that applicants for government supports such as food stamps are automatically directed to other available resources, such as training programs. professional or energy aid.

In response to the governor’s comments, Stefanowski’s campaign backtracked on Lamont’s description of her professional and political record, which she said glossed over lingering issues such as the size of government debt bondshigh taxes and rising inflation.

“Let’s face it, when it comes to budget management, if it weren’t for the billions in federal pandemic relief funds he received on a silver platter from Washington, Ned Lamont would be the second comer. of [former governor] Dan Malloy, Stefanowski’s campaign said in a statement Monday. “It’s pretty clear that Bob Stefanowski is much more qualified to control inflation, reduce utility costs and make Connecticut more affordable.”

Stefanowski also pointed to an accusation often leveled against Lamont’s record as a corporate executive: that Lamont’s cable company struggled with a secondary line of business – the installation of cable and telephone services in planned development communities – and the future governor was forced to lay off around 75 employees during the housing crisis of the mid-2000s, while taking a salary of over $500,000.

Although the exact details of the company’s restructuring have not been made public, Lamont insisted that the layoffs were limited. “All the guys on the front line kept their jobs, a lot of them moved on to the new employers,” he told Hearst columnist Dan Haar during his debut campaign against Stefanowski in 2018.

On Monday, Lamont spoke in more optimistic terms of his early days after buying several small cable companies in the 1980s, saying the staff was small enough that he knew everyone. Later, with a client list of hundreds of colleges and universities through the company’s largest division, Campus Televideo, Lamont said he remained familiar with much of the workforce, in saying “You live and breathe together.”

Lamont eventually sold Campus Televideo to a Philadelphia private equity firm in 2010. Years later, however, he said he took the same approach to managing state government, making sure to visit every agency and department to meet face-to-face employees, often injecting his own brand of optimism into the process.

“I started a business, I believed in my business, I believed in what we were doing. If I didn’t believe it, I wasn’t going to get anyone else to believe it,” Lamont said. “I feel the same way about the state of Connecticut. If you bashing the state and kicking the state, and bashing the state, it will be reflective.