Governor Dannel P. Malloy
2011 Joint Session Closing Remarks
June 9, 2011
Thank you for inviting me to speak tonight. This is an old tradition, and I’m happy to start it again.
During one of the most challenging times in our state’s history, you all stepped up, reached deep, and worked hard for the people of Connecticut.
We have not always agreed on the best path, but I know that every person in this room had their hearts in the right place, regardless of party.
I should begin by thanking a great public servant, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. I’m lucky to have you as my partner, and I thank you, Nancy, for your close counsel, your tireless work ethic, and your friendship.
I want to thank the Democratic leaders – President Don Williams and Speaker Chris Donovan, and the Majority Leaders – Marty Looney and Brendan Sharkey. You’ve shown courage, you’ve shown toughness, and I thank you for your partnership and leadership.
And I want to thank the Republican leaders and members. We’ve had our differences, but I have always respected your views, and in particular your commitment to supporting legislation designed to create jobs and rebuild Connecticut’s economy. Thank you.
Let me say that I’m proud of what we accomplished this session, but very mindful of how much more there is to do.
We began the session by saying that we needed to focus on creating jobs, and that we needed to address our budget crisis. We have done those things, and more.
On the jobs front, you approved several important economic development initiatives that will aid in the creation of thousands and thousands of jobs in the coming years.
The First 5 initiative to attract more employers, which I hope becomes the First 50, or maybe even the First 100.
The forward-thinking and ambitious proposal at the UConn Health Center, which I’m confident will help us create thousands of good-paying, much needed jobs in the short and long-term, and make Connecticut a leader in bioscience.
And the Bradley Airport Authority, which I think will help us maximize an underutilized resource.
As much as we focused on job creation, however, the signature effort of this legislative session was the budget. But that too was done with an eye toward job creation. As you’ve heard me say many times, we needed to send the business community a message that we’re serious about stabilizing the state’s finances.
We did that – and then some.
To the Democrats who took my budget, made it better, and passed it – I say thank you. It was a tough vote, but it was the right vote to make. It’s an honest budget that ends the games of the past and puts Connecticut on the road to a better tomorrow.
The budget also begins the process of restructuring and re-making state government into a 21st century vehicle for job creation. So while it reduces the number of budgeted state agencies from 81 to 57, it also creates a new Department of Energy and Environment, linking those two issues in a way that will allow us to create jobs, lower the cost of energy, and protect the environment.
Consolidating state government on paper was the first step in reinventing government. Now comes the hard part: implementing those changes.
We all know there’s one more step that needs to be taken for this budget to be locked in – the ratification of the agreement reached with the leaders of state employee unions. I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say I hope they ratify the agreement so that we can avoid going to Plan B and large scale and long term layoffs.
Upon ratification, Connecticut will have a state government that is sustainable. That means government will be able to provide the services that are needed, but at a lower cost to taxpayers.
That said, this budget is nothing to celebrate, not when it asks for so much sacrifice from so many people. Let us hope this is the last time we need to go down this road.
While the budget dominated much of our time, I’m very pleased with many of our other accomplishments. They’re significant, and they’re ones we should be proud of.
There are children who might have gone hungry – and we found the money to feed them through the expansion of school breakfast programs.
There are people working hard at low-wage jobs to provide for their families – and we found a way to give them a boost by implementing an earned income tax credit.
There are people who might have been forced to go to work when they’re sick – and we found a way to give them the decency of a paid sick day.
There are people who might have been discriminated against because of their gender identity – and we found a way to make sure they’re treated with the same decency and respect as everyone else.
There are young people who might have been tagged for life as criminals because they made a dumb mistake – and we found a way to give them a second chance by passing into law some long overdue criminal justice reforms.
On each of these issues, and a few others, we managed to pass into law progressive policies that will define Connecticut as a place of common decency.
I mentioned all of your accomplishments not as a shared victory lap, but as acknowledgement of your hard work.
But as much progress as we’ve made, in some ways our work has just begun.
Two things will dominate my time over the next few months: jobs and education, and I think in many ways they too are linked.
First, let’s talk about education.
We did some important things on education during this session – we maintained funding for local education, we put a down payment on universal pre-K, and we reformed our higher education system, which was an administrative mess. Having said that, much more needs to be done, and I hope education reform will be the focus of the 2012 legislative session.
While that’s what I want us to focus on come January, here’s what we need to focus on now: jobs. It’s an emergency, and we need to continue to treat it as such.
To that end, I am marshaling the resources from every corner of state government by asking all agency heads to participate in a tangible way with plans for job creation and economic growth.
I’ve also asked my Commissioner of Economic Development, Catherine Smith, to work with me for the next few months as we crisscross this state to listen to and share our ideas with the business community about ways state government can aid in job creation.
In the next few days I’ll be reaching out to legislative leaders to talk about coming back here in the fall so that we can have a special session that focuses on one thing: jobs.
In the legislative session that just ended, we made some real progress on some important issues, and we began to fix what was broken for so long in Hartford.
We should feel good about what we did, but we should also be mindful of how much more there is to do.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to me, thank you for your hard work this session, and thank you for your dedication to public service.
God bless you, and God bless the great State of Connecticut.