‘Fix this damn budget’ Gov. Lamont says in 1st State of the State address
Gov. Ned Lamont invited lawmakers and the people of Connecticut to “think big and act boldly” during his first State of the State address, just hours after he was sworn in as the state’s 89th governor.
The address touched on many issues, including the state’s “inventive and entrepreneurial roots” that he says have slipped over the last generation.
“Our future lies in doubling down on what makes us great and reimagining our unique potential. And it starts with the best educated workforce in the world,” he said.
He also asked lawmakers to help him “fix this damn budget, once and for all.”
“We cannot afford to let the next four years be defined by a fiscal crisis. The fate of our great state is on a knife’s edge. If we choose inaction and more of the same – we fail. But if we choose creative and bold leadership, a commitment to make the hard and difficult choices necessary to right the wrongs of the past – we will succeed.”
He says his budget that will be presented in six weeks will be balanced not just for one year, but for the foreseeable future.
“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,” he said.
State Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby) was skeptical about the governor’s approach to the budget.
"The problem is, you can't talk about, 'Let's get the budget straight, let's not have any funny math,' and then talk about things that are very costly," he said.
Gov. Lamont said that he would listen to any good idea and is will to work to get the Legislature to a “yes” vote on the budget.
He also laid out four areas in which the state could see an economic revitalization: An all-digital government; attract millennials, talent and leading companies; modernize the state’s infrastructure; and “bringing our workforce into the 21st century.”
He says the workforce should be closely aligned with “job training, starting with STEM and coding in K-12, and access to higher education, vo-tech and apprenticeships that will result in access to good paying Connecticut jobs.”
Lamont also said he wants a $15 minimum wage and a 30-minute train ride from Stamford to Manhattan. There was no mention of tolls, taxes or legalized marijuana - but all three are on the table.
He ended his address by saying he was a “straight shooter, an honest broker and a good listener.”
“I know what I know and I know what I don’t. I do have a strong sense of where we need to go and of what the people of Connecticut expect from us,” said Lamont.
Democrats in control of the Legislature have already filed bills that would raise the minimum wage, create a paid family medical leave program and a statewide tax on plastic bags.
State Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) called Lamont a "business guy" who isn't into "political speak."
"I think he likes to speak very bluntly and plainly, so people know exactly where he stands," said Duff.