HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — While Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy hasn’t said whether he will seek re-election this year, his State of the State address Thursday seemed to pave the way for another run.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, the hard-hitting theme of Malloy’s speech was budget responsibility.

Addressing a joint session of the General Assembly on the first day of the legislative session, Malloy noted that when he took office in 2011, he was left with a $3.6 billion budget deficit, which he and the Legislature “together” have since turned into a $500 million surplus.

“Today, after a lot of tough decisions and strong leadership from many people in this chamber, we’ve come a long way,” Malloy told lawmakers, noting that the state government living within its means is a major step toward growing Connecticut’s economy.

Malloy called for limiting spending hikes to less than 3 percent, universal prekindergarten and modest tax breaks.

The governor also touted the state’s falling unemployment rate — from 9.4 percent in 2011 to 7.4 percent today — as well as rising home values and crime rates that have hit a 46-year low.

“Our work hasn’t been easy,” Malloy said. “No person – and certainly no government – is perfect. Lord knows I’m not. All of our progress has come with setbacks along the way. But together we’ve proven that positive change, while hard, is possible.”

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, told Schneidau he agreed with Malloy that the 2009 budget passed under then-Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican, was a “terrible” one. Malloy mentioned that year’s budget specifically during his address because he said it forced the state to borrow $1 billion, drained Connecticut’s rainy-day fund and deferred $50 million in pension payments.

“What Gov. Malloy refused to acknowledge is that Democrats passed that budget,” McKinney said. “Republicans opposed it. And even former Gov. Rell refused to sign it because she knew it was so bad.

“Democrats had a veto-proof majority. They passed their budget. And that is one area where Gov. Malloy and I do agree that that Democrat budget of 2009  hurt the people of Connecticut.”

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