- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called Republican opponent Tom Foley “a cheap-shot specialist” on Wednesday over what he called misguided criticism of a new report that highlights UConn’s economic impact on the state.

The Democratic governor joined UConn President Susan Herbst at UConn’s graduate business learning center in Hartford to unveil an economic analysis which determined the state’s flagship university has a $3.4 billion total annual economic impact on the state.

Foley this week sent reporters an email questioning the timing of the report, suggesting its purpose was to create “a political puff piece” for Malloy, who has pushed for the expansion of bioscience at the UConn Health Center, including construction of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine.

“If a governor or president of UConn is ordering the use of state funds for political purposes, it would be an improper use of public resources and would substantially erode public confidence in our public institutions,” Foley’s statement said.

But both Herbst and Malloy denied the accusation that the $50,000 study - financed with UConn operating funds - was an effort to help the first-term governor’s re-election campaign.

“He’s a candidate, right? And he wants to make points. And he has become, you know, a cheap-shot specialist. And my hunch is he’ll never ever even read the report,” Malloy said.

The governor said he believes the study, conducted by the Pittsburgh consulting group Tripp Umbach, did not capture the full effect of the state’s recent investments in UConn.

“We’re trying to do is build a Connecticut for the long run and so the investments, much of the investments that we have announced around the University of Connecticut have not actually taken hold, they’re only starting to take hold,” Malloy said.

Herbst said she came up with the idea for the study about three years ago after working with the same consulting group while she was in Georgia. She said the UConn study was initiated a year ago and examined fiscal year 2012-2013.

“We think that it is extremely important to tell the story of Connecticut, of UConn, to the people of Connecticut and to do that right, to do that with data, to do it comprehensively, does cost a little money,” she said. “But I think it’s a tiny bit, relative to what we’ve learned.”

Herbst said the university receives a total of about $350 million annually from the state of Connecticut. But she contends every dollar spent results in a return of $11. The study reviewed the economic, employment and government revenue impacts of UConn’s main campus in Storrs, its branch campuses and the UConn Health Center.

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