The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)
Malloy finally gets some laughs
Closing his final legislative session, governor reveals wit
HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s early morning valedictory at the end of the General Assembly session Thursday brought out a rare, humble side of the no-nonsense, unpopular leader, who underscored the cooperative gains of a Legislature saved by a long hoped influx of a billion dollars in new revenue.
But first, he showed an even rarer side, with less than eight months to go before he leaves office, starting a 12-minute speech to a joint meeting of the House and Senate with a brief stand-up routine.
“Tonight I’m going to spend the next several hours airing the grievances with you that I have not been able to get in over the last eight years,” he said, smiling while lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stood, laughed and applauded. “I’ve had strong working relationships and friendships with a number of people in this hall and on both sides of the aisle. For those of you who don’t fall into that category, I look forward to coming to your districts and campaigning for you.”
The laughter and clapping in the historic hall of the House of Representatives continued.
Turning to the budget adjustments completed an hour earlier, he said while he still wasn’t sure of the entire scope of the $20 billion package, he referred to a favorite proposal of his, to eliminate price supports for alcoholic beverages, knowing there was no way it was
in the budget.
“I am trusting that somewhere in that document the minimum-bottle bill is in there, right?” Malloy said to more applause and laughter. Then he saw, standing in the back row of House members, Rep. Joe Gresko, D-Stratford, who stayed on the job earlier in the week after passing a kidney stone.
“It’s interesting, the one guy standing up on that is the guy that passed a stone yesterday.” The 185 lawmakers cheered some more. “I’m not getting you tearyeyed am I?”
Then Malloy, who has had contentious confrontations with lawmakers off and on for years, starting talking about legacies, both in the executive branch and the Legislature, where last year’s bipartisan budget reforms, finally approved after a veto from the governor, set a tone of structural reforms that carried over in this year’s adjustments to the biennial budget.
Malloy said long-term
obligations in retirement benefits have been changed and will be reflected in the future. The current growth rate in the budget over the last eight years has been the lowest in decades, he said.
“We passed two historic labor agreements that are saving the state more than $42 billion over the next 20 years,” he said, adding the executive branch workforce in the major state departments is 13 percent smaller than when he took office in 2011. “It is at the lowest staffing level since 1975, when I was a sophomore in college and Ella Grasso was the governor of the state of Connecticut,” he said.
Malloy said when he took office, the state’s emergency reserve fund was empty. Now it will have $1 billion.
He noted successes this year in trying to achieve gender pay equity. He hailed the Legislature’s ban on so-called bump-stock rifles; the expansion of protection for women who are victims of rape and better treatment for incarcerated women.