Governor Dannel P. Malloy
Inaugural Message to the Connecticut General Assembly
“Shared Sacrifice; Shared Prosperity”
January 5, 2011
I. Salutation and Introduction
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Senator McKinney, Representative Cafero, my fellow state officials, ladies and gentlemen of the General Assembly, honored members of the Judiciary, members of the clergy, honored guests, a special mention to my close friend and the best running mate ever, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, and a special mention to the former First Lady Nikki O’Neil, the wife of the late great Governor O’Neil, my extended family, friends and all the citizens throughout our great state, and the four people who mean the most to me, my wonderful wife Cathy, and our three sons, Dannel, Ben and Sam.
Thank you for being here to mark a crucial cornerstone in our democracy – the transfer of responsibilities and the conveyance of hope for our collective future, from one gubernatorial administration to the next.
Before I begin I would like to make three important notes.
The first is to acknowledge the service of Governor Rell. She stepped into the role of Governor at a time when our state was in a different kind of crisis, a crisis of confidence in the character and intentions of its leadership. She worked tirelessly to restore that sense of respectability, and she will hold a special place in our hearts and our history because of her efforts.
Second, I would like to congratulate all of you seated here today for your victories in last year’s election, both returning legislative veterans and newcomers. You are seated in a Hall surrounded by history, the echoes of lawmakers who over the centuries were called to the same higher purpose that is public service. I congratulate each of you.
And third is to acknowledge the heroic service of the brave men and women from our great state of Connecticut serving in our Armed Forces in two wars and across the globe today. I hope and pray that we will have peace someday soon. And I thank them for their dedication to their country.
Crisis and Opportunity; Prosperity through Shared Sacrifice
I believe that what is in our history and what is in our hearts are intertwined to create a DNA of sorts that defines us as a people. Connecticut has a storied 375-year history, one rooted in the political and military founding of this great nation; one driven by industrial, political, and artistic innovation that had become the signature of our people over time.
Today, though, as has happened from time to time over our centuries, we are faced with considerable challenges, I dare say crises of historic proportions.
We are, indeed, at a crossroads of crisis and opportunity.
We will need to reach deep to our roots, those of strength yet compassion, steadfastness yet innovation. And, most importantly, we will need to solve our problems -- TOGETHER – by pursuing with great urgency not Republican ideas or Democratic ideas, but good ideas that know no political master or agenda.
We will do these things so that in our future we can celebrate shared prosperity for us all, which on balance can only come from shared sacrifice from each of us.
Today, then, marks quite a bit more than the singular act of a transition from one gubernatorial administration to another. It is a demarcation between where we have been and where we are going, about remembering who we are and what we are capable of when it counts the most.
Perhaps Connecticut Governor Wilbur Cross captured it best in a 1936 Thanksgiving Proclamation when he wrote to the people of Connecticut and gave thanks:
“For the blessings that have been our common lot and have placed our beloved State with the favored regions of earth … for the richer yield from labor of every kind that has sustained our lives … for honor held above price … for steadfast courage and zeal in the long, long search after truth.
III. The Journey to this Moment:
A Personal Story
As Governor Cross so eloquently pointed out, we the people of Connecticut are blessed. We come from good stock, and it is within that historical context that I stand before you a deeply humbled man.
Many observers say that this has been a six-year journey for me to this point – from when I first started considering a run for the office of governor. But in many ways it started so much earlier.
Growing up, I had learning disabilities that might have left me on the fringes. Back then, there were not programs to identify and support children with disabilities. But luckily for me, there was the inspiring dedication and skill of the school teachers who touched my life, and there was the sheer willpower of a mother of 8 children.
My parents both worked while raising a large family, but my mother, who was a nurse, knew I was different. She knew I had challenges, but she never let those challenges overshadow my strengths. She focused her children on the importance of character, hard work, dedication, and love of family. And she repeatedly challenged us to leave the world a better place for having been here.
Not unlike what is needed today for our great state. I believe we need to focus on our strengths, and acknowledge that there are no challenges before us that we can’t fix with hard work, dedication, and getting in touch with the collective character that is our heritage.
In many ways, the adversity that I have faced growing up, and the adversity Connecticut faces today, are intersecting at that crossroads of crisis and opportunity.
IV. The Crossroads of Crisis and Opportunity
So today, we gather to talk about how to leave Connecticut a better place than when we found it. We must reach back to our heritage for fortitude, to make an honest assessment of where we are, and to join together to define our collective future as a people.
It will require us to think differently. To compare how things have been done in the past, and to take a different path forward. I’m reminded of the renowned poet Robert Frost, a fellow New Englander, when he wrote in The Road Not Taken:
| “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”|
Today I see an economic crisis and an employment crisis, fueled by an unfriendly employer environment, a lack of educational resources, a deteriorating transportation system, and an enormous budget crisis of historic proportions. All coddled by a habit of political sugarcoating that has passed our problems onto the next generation.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the next generation is here.
We will conjure up the true grit and courage of our heritage and take the road less traveled, because Connecticut has met great challenges before.
In the War of 1812 when the British blockade crippled our import business, we pivoted to innovating machine tools and industrial technology – thanks to the likes of Eli Whitney and other world class inventors. They sparked a string of firsts from the Cotton Gin to the portable typewriter to color TV; from the lollipop to the Frisbee.
In our inventive heyday we had more patents issued per capita than any other state in the union.
We defined the American industrial revolution and became the Arsenal of Democracy that President Roosevelt called for during World War Two. Only we started a century earlier by playing a pivotal role in the Civil War and continued through both World Wars and the Cold War in the 1960s when we built the first nuclear submarine.
And our mighty economic presence intertwined with a different kind of strength.
In the mid 1800s Prudence Crandall ran a school for African American girls in the face of discrimination and death threats, and in doing so defined the edges of equality and the power of education to change us for the better.
We shattered the glass ceiling of gubernatorial history thanks to Ella Grasso of Windsor Locks as the nation’s first female governor, elected in her own right.
Our heritage also includes literary and artistic heroes of global proportions. We became home to Harriett Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, PT Barnum and the founder of Webster’s Dictionary. And of course we are still home to America's oldest continuously published newspaper, our own Hartford Courant.
We have overcome events beyond our control. Ferocious hurricanes. Blizzards. Devastating floods.
And more recently when the planes hit on 9/11 – as mayor of Stamford at the time, I remember how we all went into rapid response mode, ramping up our hospitals and preparing for the wave of transport victims we would be receiving. But of course they never came. Instead, we counted the unclaimed cars that remained in commuter parking lots. We mourned, and we persevered.
We have this astounding history, this heritage. You know, as I have traveled around the state for many years, meeting amazing people in churches and diners and town picnics – one of their consistent messages was this feeling that maybe our best days are behind us. That economic security – let alone prosperity – is a thing of the past. That maybe we won’t – that we can’t – leave this a better place than we found it.
And even while they were sending me that message, there was a context to it. They were asking me to help them do something about it. And that tells me the true grit that is Connecticut, the can-do spirit of innovation, is still alive and ready – to engage in the fight for a better future for everyone.
Because as our own Harriet Beecher Stowe said – and she knew a thing or two about adversity:
| “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”|
V. Shared Prosperity:
Join an Emerging Movement
I can sense it. It is our time. Never give up, and the tide will turn. It’s not just the story of my life. It’s the story of Connecticut.
So if you believe like I do that Connecticut’s best days are ahead, I hope you will join what must be a shared, emerging movement for rational, honest, achievable change. A movement that restores economic vitality, creates jobs and returns Connecticut to fiscal solvency.
We will put in place an economic development strategy that makes sense for the 21st century economy, aggressively competing with other states and nations for lucrative biotech, nanotech, fuel cell technology and stem cell research jobs.
We will join Connecticut to the Energy Economy, attracting companies that reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
We will aggressively develop our three deepwater ports to spark commercial activity and decrease our reliance on heavy trucking and the congestion they bring to our highways.
We will make Bradley International Airport an independent entity, freeing it to better grow its passenger base.
Cities and towns will have a partner in Hartford, and we will marshal all the resources of the state government to help local projects with an economic impact. I’ve been on the municipal side of the equation, and I know first hand how important that partnership could be.
We will work to remove the barriers that keep us from attracting employers by lowering the highest energy costs in the country, lowering health care costs, and reforming our regulatory system to protect the public while building our economy.
I also hope you will join me in a movement to once and for all resolve our out-of-control budget crisis, and retire gimmicks and one-time solutions. We must instead adopt a responsible tell-it-like-it-is approach to balancing and managing our budget, and treat it just like any company treats a budget, with generally accepted accounting principles – commonly referred to as GAAP.
We must establish our means and live within them.
That’s why, minutes before I stepped into this chamber to give this speech – I signed an executive order which begins the process of requiring the state to keep its books according to GAAP principles. We require every city and town to do it, and now we’ll require the state to do it.
We will make state government make sense, to serve the people better, to shorten the distance between what they need and when they get it. In the coming weeks and months, you will hear a lot about reducing the size of government, from the size of my office, to the number of state agencies. And not just cutting for cutting sake, but re-conceiving government so that better decisions are made and implemented faster.
And as we go through this together, I believe it is imperative that we not lose sight of who we are; who we have always been. Not unlike when our beloved Governor Ella Grasso said during her Inaugural address in 1975:
| “We must provide government that is efficient, that is compassionate, that is humane. But we will fulfill that role mindful of the lives that are touched by every program, aware of our heritage and our responsibilities to the people and to the communities of which we are a part.”|
VI. Shared Sacrifice
To get there, together, is going to take courage, conviction, and shared sacrifice. I believe we have the courage. I believe we have the conviction – we’re not very good at being last in anything. And I believe that in our hearts, we are willing to make sacrifices if, if, we understand where we’re going, what’s at stake, and that shared sacrifice is really shared – that there’s a fairness factor.
But this is not sacrifice without payoff. This is sacrifice with a purpose. This is the kind of sacrifice I think my mother was talking about that will leave the world a better place for us having been here.
It is a time of historic proportions, when we as a people must ask ourselves who we, collectively, want to be and what separates us as a people.
Do we believe in every woman, child and man for themselves?
Or do we believe as President Kennedy did that a rising tide floats all boats?
Do we believe we can be a mighty economic force?
Do we believe in the education of our children?
Do we believe in the social safety net for the most vulnerable among us, and that it should be a hand up instead of a handout?
It’s going to be tough to finally address our most intractable problems while being true to ourselves, but the question is not whether it can be done. We already know we can from our history. And I know from personal experience that we can. I remember when we transformed Stamford, which was an ailing industrial city, and made it a world-class financial center – sparking an economic, cultural and environmental renaissance that gained national attention.
The question is whether we want to do it. I want to. I hope you do, too. And we will … together.
In the coming weeks, my Administration will be developing detailed proposals to set and fund priorities for the state, which I will outline in my budget address to the Legislature later next month. We clearly face big problems, and in my estimation big problems call for a big table. I will be meeting with the Legislature, labor leaders, economic advisors, private industry and the not-for-profit sector so that we have a well-rounded perspective on the best solutions to our problems. And then I will begin working with the Legislature to adopt the budget.
With your help and a shared sense of responsibility and sacrifice, we will realize shared prosperity for all.
Future generations will look back on this particular crossroads of crisis and opportunity – and say that we rallied, we reached deep, we chose well to leave this great state better than we found it. After all, we know as the people of Connecticut, it is in our nature to do so.
I look forward to serving the people of Connecticut with you. God bless you, God bless the Great State of Connecticut, and God bless the United States of America.