Governor Dannel Malloy avoided the state’s fiscal problems and instead focused on big policy goals as he gave his last State of the State address at the start of the General Assembly’s legislative session.
Malloy was in a mood to tout his legacy, running though his achievements in office on gay marriage, the minimum wage and protecting the rights of undocumented immigrants who arrived as children, and setting those in the context of the state’s wider history, something he characterized as “Connecticut Fairness.”
“Together we can send a signal to the rest of the nation – and indeed the rest of the world, that Connecticut leaders will always recognize injustice and inequity, and that we will meet it head on with compassion, with love, and with fairness,” he told the chamber.
Setting out his legislative priorities for the session, the governor said he wants to see the state pass an individual mandate to buy health insurance, preserving the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act. He also wants Connecticut to keep free access to birth control.
He spoke about the urgency of climate change and said he wants 75 percent of Connecticut’s power to come from clean energy by 2030.
He’s introducing legislation to strengthen the state’s gun laws, outlawing weapons modifiers like bump stocks, and he’s looking for further reforms to the juvenile justice system.
The governor also said the state should renew its efforts to improve access to the ballot box. He wants to see a constitutional amendment to allow early voting for any reason, and he's also going to issue an executive order directing his administration to explore the possibility of voting by mail.
"Our modern lives and busy schedules don’t always align with a 14-hour block of time for voting," said the governor. "People who work hard and follow the rules should be able to express their most fundamental democratic right."
Malloy also gave a nod to the growing “me too” movement, saying he’d like to see legislation to improve workplace protections against sexual harassment.
He called for a further increase in the minimum wage and for more action to narrow the gender wage gap. He said he'll be looking for legislators to extend access to the workers' compensation system to the 8,000 home care workers in the state.
But in some ways the speech was most notable for what it left out, with the state facing a $240 million dollar budget gap this year, $160 million next year, and then billion dollar deficits in the out years when Malloy will have left office.
The governor detailed his budget proposals two days in advance of this speech in a briefing with reporters, but didn't reference the state's fiscal strife today.