HARTFORD - Connecticutâ€™s newly sworn-in Gov. Ned Lamont outlined his hopes and goals for the next four years Wednesday afternoon when he addressed the General Assembly on his first official day at the State Capitol.
â€śLetâ€™s fix the damn budget once and for all - you with me?â€ť the Democratic governor asked members of both parties who where in the audience.
Lamont gave his first State of the State address to lawmakers with the simple message that Connecticutâ€™s fiscal situation must be dealt with head-on during the 2019 General Assembly session.
People on both sides of the chamber stood and applauded when the stateâ€™s 89th governor talked about his eagerness to balance the budget.
â€śIn six weeks, I will present to you with a budget which is in balance not just for a year, but for the foreseeable future; so that mayors and selectmen, business and labor leaders, teachers and police officers know what to expect. And together we will deliver on what we say â€“ a budget on time - honest and balanced,â€ť Lamont said. â€śHowever, I want to be clear â€“ no more funny math or budgetary gamesmanship. I come from the world of small business where the numbers have to add up at the end of the month or the lights go out.â€ť
But, as he did in his inauguration speech earlier in the day, Lamont said his term as governor would not be defined by the stateâ€™s fiscal situation. He pointed to improving the stateâ€™s transportation system, updating Connecticutâ€™s technological infrastructure and websites for the â€śfirst all-digital governmentâ€ť and for attracting talent as some of his other ideas to strengthen the economy. He emphasized building a workforce for the future and thanked the stateâ€™s teachers for educating Connecticutâ€™s young people.
The chamber became visually divided when Lamont brought up two of his other agenda items as governor.
â€śThat also means bringing not just the workforce into the 21st century, but bringing the workplace into the 21st century, and that starts with making paid family leave a reality for all of our families,â€ť Lamont said. â€śA 21st century workplace also means moving to a $15 minimum wage, responsibly and over time, so that those same parents can afford to provide for their children without working three jobs.â€ť
State Rep. Rick Lopes, D-New Britain, who is running in the special election race to replace outgoing state Sen. Terry Gerratanaâ€™s District 6 seat, said it was an â€śinspiringâ€ť speech. Gerratana will be joining the governorâ€™s administration as an adviser.
â€śI think he hit upon all of the major issues the people of Connecticut are worrying about and itâ€™s a good blueprint to move forward,â€ť Lopes said after the speech.
Republican legislator, state Repw. William Petit Jr., said he â€śliked the toneâ€ť of the governors speech and said it displayed a positive outlook. Petit said he had concerns, however.
â€śA lot of the businesses Iâ€™ve spoken to feel that an increase to $15 an hour wonâ€™t be helpful,â€ť Petit said. â€śIt might cause them to cut hours or positions at small businesses especially.â€ť
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