NEW BRITAIN – In his final State of the State address, Gov. Dannel Malloy focused on the idea of “Connecticut fairness” while pitching a progressive agenda for the state’s new legislative session.
“Fairness lies at the very center of our national origin, and our national purpose. It is part of the American promise – that if freedom means anything, it means a fair shot at a decent life for all people,” Malloy said, laying the groundwork for his speech. “Here in Connecticut, the pursuit of fairness has been a constant throughout our history.”
Malloy highlighted many of the state’s important historical figures like John Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Prudence Crandall, who all fought for equality and fairness in their own right. The governor spoke of the formation of Connecticut’s first black labor union, and the historic 135-day hunger strike at a Danbury prison to combat racial segregation in the prison system.
“This common thread of fairness has woven its way through Connecticut’s history, all the way to present times. In recent years, we have worked hard to ensure that when it comes to equity, justice, and basic compassion for one another – our actions have lived up to our rhetoric,” Malloy said. “We’ve been driven by Connecticut fairness.”
Malloy used the theme of “Connecticut fairness” to highlight some of the many progressive things Connecticut legislation has done to help ensure equality for residents. Gay marriage, a $10 minimum wage, gun violence prevention legislation and the Connecticut DREAM act are just a few of the things the state has led the way on, Malloy said.
The governor urged legislators to continue this tradition of fairness this year.
“We won’t be able to solve every problem or right every wrong, but together we can send a signal to the rest of the nation – and indeed the rest of the world, that Connecticut leaders will always recognize injustice and inequity, and that we will meet it head on with compassion, with love, and with fairness,” Malloy said.
Malloy’s “Connecticut fairness” proposals include:
- Preserving the key elements of the Affordable Care Act, including passing a state-level individual mandate.
- Ensuring birth control for women remains cost-free.
- Building upon Connecticut’s “paid sick leave” laws.
- Increasing Connecticut’s clean energy and environmental protection efforts. “Let’s mandate that by the year 2030, 75 percent of Connecticut energy is clean energy,” Malloy said.
- Increase affordable housing opportunities in the state.
- Passing a statewide ban on bump stocks for firearms.
- Increased protections for young people in the state’s criminal justice system.
- Make it easier for Connecticut residents to cast their ballots early, possibly mail.
- Increasing fairness in the workplace by creating standards to prevent harassment. Also related to the workplace, Malloy said legislators should work to ensure experience, and not salary history, determines wages.
Malloy expressed confidence legislators will continue to push the state forward by reflecting on Connecticut’s past and present.
“Together, we have the advantage. We have strength in numbers. Good people are never outnumbered. Not in this state, not in this nation,” Malloy said. “History will judge us by our action this year, this session, to build a better, fairer Connecticut. So let’s get to work.”
Bristol and New Britain mayors reacted to Malloy’s speech shortly after it’s conclusion.
“I liked the Governor’s emphasis on ‘fairness,’ and hope that this theme also translates into a timely budget being delivered to cities and towns so that we can plan accordingly,” Bristol mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said following the address.
“The state of the state address did not mention one thing about the state of our state #tonedeaf,” Mayor Erin Stewart, who is exploring a run at governor, Tweeted.
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WYMAN’S FINAL OPENING DAY – can add to main bar if you want
Shortly before Malloy’s speech, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman was greeted in her 35th, and final, opening day of the General Assembly with a standing ovation.
“I want to thank you for your friendship and your trust,” Wyman said to the chamber.
Wyman thanked legislators for their commitment to the state, while adding that they have a difficult job ahead of them.
“Continue moving forward. Democrat or Republican, Republican or Democrat, we are united in our love for Connecticut and it’s residents.”