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An emotional Gov. Dannel Malloy urged resiliency, cooperation and need to rally around a common good and a common goal in his third state of the state address given Wednesday. In talking about the unspeakable massacre in Newtown last month, Malloy actually found it hard to speak, choking-up and pausing to regain his composure
Gun control, school safety and a new two-year budget are the big issues that face the state as the 2013 legislative session got underway. Malloy finds himself in a tough spot as the state is still battling a sluggish economy and is facing a $1 billion deficit.
But dominating his speech was the question of what should be done about gun control and making schools safer. Malloy said he will wait for the special commission he has formed to report before making detailed proposals. He did proclaim, “More guns are not the answer.”
There was clearly a pall remaining over the new legislature in the wake of Sandy Hook. Legislators, other officials and spectators wore green and white ribbons—the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Both Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra and Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson were in attendance.
The opening of legislative sessions is largely ceremonial with new legislators being sworn in and Malloy’s address to the joint gathering of the house and senate. The real action comes in February when Malloy makes his budget address. Malloy has pledged there will be no new taxes. But that means no new taxes and no increase in the rates of current taxes. It doesn’t mean people won’t be paying more. Programs such as the property tax credit (cut from a maximum $500 to $300 in the current budget) and the earned income tax credit are in jeopardy.
The state’s mayors and first selectmen are closely watching to see if their municipal aid will be cut. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities is already upset about some of the cuts made by the governor with his rescission—or unilateral budget cutting—authority. By law, the governor can’t cut local aid without getting approval from the legislature. So it comes down to what constitutes “municipal aid.” New Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey is already saying local aid “needs to be looked at.” That spells trouble. Thus far in his tenure, Malloy has been able to leave municipal aid alone or, hold the cities and towns harmless.