Gov. Ned Lamont has only been at his job for six months, but he’s the third least popular governor in the country and according to a recent Governing Magazine piece he’s just “surviving” his first term.
Lamont, who is at the National Governors Association summer meeting in Utah today, said Tuesday that he doesn’t agree with the characterization by Governing Magazine that he’s just “surviving” his first term.
“I’m feeling pretty good about the first six months,” Lamont said.
He cited an “on time” budget, Paid Family and Medical Leave, and an increase in the minimum wage as highlights of his legislative accomplishments.
“We did it all without raising tax rates while confronted with an almost $4 billion deficit,” Lamont said.
The budget Lamont signed into law increases dozens of sales taxes on various items and institutes a mansion tax on homes valued at more than $2.5 million. The budget raises $861.5 million in additional revenue in the first year, and $921.3 million in the second year of the budget, helping to close a $3.7 billion deficit.
This year Lamont signed 233 pieces of legislation and vetoed three bills. The legislature declined to override any of the vetoes earlier this week.
The Governing article cited his inability to get a public health insurance option and tolls as its reason for sticking Lamont in the “surviving” category vs. the “thriving” category.
Lamont was quick to point out Tuesday that the public option was not his initiative even though he ended up in negotiations over the legislation and publicly touted a path forward that was immediately dismissed by health insurers headquartered in the state and the pharmaceutical lobby.
Lamont doesn’t believe he’s responsible for the defeat of that legislation which blew up when state Comptroller Kevin Lembo accused a health insurer of threatening to leave the state if a public option was approved.
Lembo has declined to comment on the failure of the public option since those negotiations fell apart in late May.
Lamont might not own the public option, but it’s undeniable that the push to get electronic tolls and congestion pricing approved by the legislature is squarely with his office.
“I still have to fix transportation,” Lamont said. “I still got some work to do. I get it.”
However, Lamont said he remains an optimist and believes he’ll be able to get tolls passed before the end of the year.
It will be up to him to get the votes and call lawmakers back for a special session. So far he’s been unable to win enough Democratic support for tolls to overcome Republican opposition.
The Governing Magazine piece comes after the second quarter Morning Consult poll which shows Lamont’s disapproval rising 10 percentage points to 48 percent as his approval rating remains steady at around 32 percent. Lamont is slightly more popular than Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, who he met with last week.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who also attended that meeting in Willimantic, is the most popular governor in the country with 73 percent of those polled approving of the job he’s doing.