It’s unclear where the cuts will be made and how long the honeymoon between the newly elected governor and legislature will last, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Gov. Dan Malloy struck all the right notes Wednesday in his inaugural address to the joint General Assembly.
The speech, which was similar but a little longer than he one he gave earlier in the afternoon at the armory, touched on Connecticut’s history of innovation and ingenuity, its challenges, and how those challenges will require shared sacrifice.
“Today was the day to set the tone,” Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, said. “He did that.”
Facing what may be one of the toughest economic climates and a budget deficit greater than $3.67 billion, possibly the largest in state history, Malloy will need all the help he can get.
“Everybody wants Malloy to succeed,” Roraback said. But “as details emerge a spirited discussion will begin,” he added.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said he’s not sure how long the goodwill will last after Feb. 16 — the date Malloy is expected to give his budget address.
“I think that may be the end of the honeymoon,” Cafero said. “It’s when the real work begins.”
But Malloy, who failed to win the governor’s office in 2006, said he’s been preparing for this office for more than six years.
“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,” Malloy said.
Personal victories aside, Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said Malloy struck many of the same themes he did during the campaign in terms of trying to find ways for Connecticut to be move aggressive and innovative and to replicate on a statewide level many of the things he did as mayor of Stamford.
Joseph Brennan, senior vice president of public policy for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said he thought Malloy delivered a “very positive message,” and talked throughout his remarks about getting the economy going again.
“He did recognize we don’t have a particularly employer-friendly environment in Connecticut,” Brennan said.
And Malloy touched on some of of the business community’s loudest complaints about Connecticut: the cost of electricity and health care.
“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,” Malloy said. “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.”
Brennan said it will be difficult for Malloy to satisfy everybody in the coming year.
“We certainly agree in his call for shared sacrifice,” Brennan said. “Ultimately that’s the only way we’re going to solve the problems that we have.”
House Speaker Chris Donovan said he’s looking forward to working with Malloy. He said there were some similar themes between Donovan’s speech earlier in the morning and Malloy’s. He said they both talked about ways to reduce the cost of energy and lower the cost of health care.
As for shared sacrifices, Malloy made no mention of which constituencies may be facing reductions.
“Shared sacrifice can mean many things to many people,” Cafero said, describing Malloy’s comments as appropriately vague. “I’m sure that we’ll get more detail in a moment. It meant that everybody is going to have to give a little . . . by way of services, by way of resources, by way of cutting back, I don’t know. But I would hope that he means that he understands and is prepared to tell the state that we don’t have any money right now and we’re going to have to do without in many cases.”
Earlier today, Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain, said that just because the state is facing a budget crisis doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity to do good things. He said good things don’t always have to cost money.
“We have to do better than just say this is how much money we have,” Tercyak said. “There needs to be vision.”