Christine Stuart photo

Gov. M. Jodi Rell was more than halfway through her State of the State Wednesday when she had to pause because a cameraman from Channel 3 had fainted.

As paramedics attended to the man, Rell tried to lighten the moment by saying, “I know it’s a somber speech, but I didn’t mean to make anyone faint.”

During her 20-minute speech, Rell received applause during her opening remarks, after mentioning the election of the first African-American president, and at the end of the speech. The Democratic majority said they believe Rell struck the right tone in her speech by asking for cooperation, instead of scolding lawmakers.

Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, had said earlier in the day that legislature and the governor did not create the current budget deficit, but will work together to get out of it.

“Government must shrink because our taxpayers are seeing their personal budgets shrink,” Rell said. “The recession has landed hard on the doorsteps of many of our citizens and they are looking to us for relief. They expect us to work together to bring new approaches to the table – because that’s what leaders do.”

Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said Rell’s speech should have acted as a warning tone to all the lawmakers “who haven’t fully grasped the depth and urgency of this crisis.”

Asked if he was surprised about the lack of applause breaks during Rell’s speech, Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, called it a “somber” atmosphere.

“It’s a day when we open the session … we appreciate our colleagues but we’re also very concerned about the families across our state,” he said.

There were no obvious hints from Rell about what she may offer during her February budget address.

“Action will be taken this session, as it should be, on a host of different issues—health care, criminal justice, transportation, education, and the environment, to name but a few,” Rell said. “The ideas, the proposals, the plans will be plentiful. The resources needed to bring many of them to life will not be.”

Robert Genuario, Rell’s budget director, said he expects the biennium budget to be done by the end of January. Meanwhile, he said he expects the Jan. 14 session on the governor’s second budget mitigation plan to help with his planning on the budget for 2010 and 2011.