HARTFORD, CT (AP / WCBS 880) - Now that Connecticut’s newly minted Gov. Daniel P. Malloy has called for a shared sacrifice to solve the state’s financial woes, state policymakers will need to decide who all will be sacrificing what.
Malloy, the first Democratic governor in 20 years, captured lawmakers’ attention on Wednesday when he said it’s “going to take courage, conviction and shared sacrifice” to fix the state’s problems.
“I believe that in our hearts, we are willing to make sacrifices if we understand where we’re going, what’s at stake, and that shared sacrifice is really shared, that there’s a fairness factor,” Malloy told a joint session of the General Assembly, shortly after taking the oath of office to become Connecticut’s 88th governor.
Connecticut’s budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1 faces an estimated deficit of as much as $3.67 billion, or about 18 percent of estimated spending. Malloy is expected to unveil his two-year budget on Feb. 16.
Opinions were mixed Wednesday about who should be making sacrifices.
“To me it means, every single department, every single agency, every constituency that depends on the state for funding, is going to have to roll up their sleeves and find more savings and more efficiencies, simple as that,” said Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, said he believes shared sacrifice can mean everything from cutting back certain benefits to state employees that the state can no longer afford to paring programs.
“Right now taxpayers are sacrificing. We increased taxes by $1.6 billion, we increased every fee that we have, we increased every penalty that we have, businesses are sacrificing, look at the statistics,” he said. “We need to share this sacrifice and that’s what he means.”
House Speaker Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden, said he doesn’t think it’s fair to focus only on the state employee workforce when talking about sacrificing.
“State employees already gave over $700 million to get us out of that last budget,” he said. “We’re going to have discussions with everybody. And I think when you talk about sharing, that means everybody.
More than 2,000 turned out for Malloy’s inauguration on Wednesday - the first to be held at the William A. O’Neill Armory - many cheering loudly when he was officially sworn in. He replaces the retiring Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who did not attend the event.
For Malloy, 55, the inauguration marked a professional and personal milestone. One of eight children, Malloy paused to gain his composure after describing how his late mother knew he had learning disabilities as a child “but she never let those challenges overshadow my strengths. She never gave up on me.”
At the request of Malloy’s wife Cathy, a soloist sang the old Irish song “Oh Danny Boy.” The couple held hands during the performance and Cathy Malloy wiped away a tear as their three sons looked on.
Beth Kerrigan of West Hartford brought her twin 9-year-old sons, Fernando and Carlos, to the ceremonies. They stood outside the armory watching the 19-gun salute and a fly-over by four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
A plaintiff in the state’s landmark gay marriage lawsuit, Kerrigan said Malloy gives her hope that he can turn the state around.
“He’s a man of commitment, conviction,” she said. “I think that he knows it’s going to take a lot of work and he’s going to have to make a lot of hard decisions, and I think he’s prepared to do that. He’s never said anything other than that.”
Besides Malloy, Lieutenant Gov. Nancy Wyman, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, Attorney General George Jepsen, State Treasurer Denise Nappier and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo were also sworn into office.
Malloy signed three executive orders before that address, including one that imposes new accounting standards to improve the transparency of the state budgeting process.
Mayor of Stamford for 14 years, until December 2009, Malloy narrowly defeated Republican Greenwich businessman and former ambassador Tom Foley by 6,404 votes.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)