HARTFORD — Newly sworn-in Gov. Ned Lamont called Wednesday’s inauguration the chance for a “fresh start,” and urged politicians from both parties to “work like heck” toward compromise.
Referencing the song “My Shot” from the musical “Hamilton,” Lamont said residents should draw upon the theme — lead character Alexander Hamilton singing about “himself as a scrappy immigrant kid with great opportunities, just like his new nation.”
Lamont, the Democrat who defeated Republican Bob Stefanowski and three other candidates, was sworn in as governor around 1 p.m., replacing fellow Democrat Dannel P. Malloy. Later in the afternoon, he made his first State of the State address to the legislature.
In his inaugural address, Lamont said his election presents the chance for a new approach for Connecticut.
“That’s what I love about America — every generation, we get a chance to reinvent ourselves and every election gives us a fresh start,” he said about the Hamilton song. “This is our chance to reinvent Connecticut, to think big, act boldly.”
He also referenced Connecticut’s past as “the most entrepreneurial, inventive, and fast-growing state loaded with amazing opportunities.”
In particular, Lamont pledged to improve the state’s fiscal situation.
“I will not allow the next four years to be defined by a fiscal crisis,” he said. “Together we will craft an honestly balanced budget which does not borrow from the future, but invests in the future.”
He concluded his speech by calling on Democrats and Republicans to work together, saying “there is no room for the critic on the sidelines.”
“Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and work like heck to get to ‘yes,’ and make sure that all of our kids get their shot,” he said.
Lamont later told lawmakers gathered in the House of Representatives that this election is a chance to “reinvent Connecticut, to think big and act boldly.”
“And it starts right here in the room where it happens,” Lamont added.
He reminded lawmakers of the state’s innovative roots in the defense industry with the invention of the world’s first submarine in Old Saybrook and nuclear submarine in Groton. In Naugatuck, workers invented rubber that could withstand both heat and cold. The portable typewriter, invented in Stamford, redefined the workplace, and the world’s first helicopter was designed and piloted by Igor Sikorsky in Stratford.
A century later, Sikorsky’s factory is still here and Electric Boat remains the largest submarine manufacturer in the world, he said.
But over the last generation, the state’s entrepreneurial zip has slipped, Lamont told lawmakers. As a result, the state is no longer viewed as hospitable or encouraging to new businesses.
Lamont pointed to careers in technology, high skilled manufacturing and health care and reinforced his campaign promise to push for a $15 minimum wage and family medical leave.
He expressed a desire for improvements, such as the first 5G network in New England and a transportation system that gets commuters from New Haven to Hartford in 30 minutes and from Stamford to New York in 30 minutes. He proposed adding rail spurs in Waterbury and New London.
Lamont also called on lawmakers to fix the state’s budget problems.
“The fate of our great state is on a knife’s edge. If we choose inaction and more of the same – we fail,” he said. “But if we choose creative and bold leadership, a commitment to make the hard and difficult choices necessary to right the wrongs of the past – we will succeed.”
Lamont said he will present a budget in six weeks, meaning he will need an additional two weeks more than previously scheduled, but vowed to avoid “funny math or budgetary gamesmanship” in doing so.
“I come from the world of small business where the numbers have to add up at the end of the month or the lights go out,” he said. “Unlike in D.C., our government doesn’t shut down — we don’t play those games here. “
Lamont also pledged to refuse to spend time playing the blame game over who is responsible for the state’s fiscal crisis.
“It’s real, it’s here and it’s time to confront it head on,” Lamont said. “And, please don’t tell me you’ve done your share and it’s somebody else’s turn. It’s all of our turns. Fix the budget, invest in the future, and nothing can stop us.”
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