It was a busy day in Hartford as the legislative session kicked off and Ned Lamont was sworn in as the 89th Governor of Connecticut. The day started off with the opening session in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Joe Aresimowicz was re-elected as Speaker of the House and Martin Looney was chosen as the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. There were many new faces at the capitol today. In 2018, 41 new members of the state legislature were elected.
After the opening of the session for the legislature, the spotlight turned to the state armory for the inauguration of Ned Lamont. Following the swearing in of the constitutional officers, Former Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court Chase Rogers administered the oath of office to Governor Ned Lamont. After the oath, the Governor gave a brief inaugural address. Governor Lamont thanked his supporters, the constitutional officers, and Governor Malloy. He then said that he would not let his term be defined by a fiscal crisis.
The inauguration was followed by a 19 gun salute from the Connecticut National Guard and the Inaugural Parade. Governor Lamont marched alongside his family in a parade that featured the Harding High School Marching Band and the Governor’s Foot Guard. The Governor received a warm welcome and supporters cheered as he walked by.
Later in the afternoon, the Governor gave his State of the State Address to a joint session of the House and the Senate. In a speech that lasted just over 20 minutes, Lamont said he would deliver a budget and told legislators “Let’s fix the damn budget once and for all”. Democratic legislators erupted with applause when the Governor proposed a $15 minimum wage and family and medical leave. However, the address was very bipartisan and Lamont says that his door is always open. Governor Lamont definitely offers a different approach than his predecessor and he has a tough job ahead of him.
After winning two months ago, Ned Lamont will be sworn in as the 89th Governor of Connecticut on Wednesday, January 9th . Lamont, 65, will take over a projected state budget deficit of $1.7 billion. Lamont is ambitious to govern and says he will start working hard to fix the state’s problems on day one. Ruling out income tax hikes and tolls for cars Lamont says he will likely add truck only tolls and will create a better relationship with the business community. Expectations for Lamont are high but some are questioning if he will be able to deliver. The deficit is projected to increase and Lamont will have to make tough decisions to balance the budget.
Lamont has already began to assemble a staff. He named Ryan Drajewicz as his Chief of Staff. Drajewicz is a native of Connecticut and worked for former Senator Chris Dodd before taking a job with Stamford based Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. Lamont also named Melissa McCaw as the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. McCaw, the former CFO for Hartford, will oversee the state budget and work with Lamont to create a budget. Lamont created a new role for his administration, the Chief Operating Officer. He named Paul Mounds to serve as a liaison between state departments and agencies. Other high profile appointments include Colleen Flanagan Johnson as a Senior Advisor, Maribel La Cruz as Communications Director, Chris Soto as Director of Legislative Affairs, Joe Giulietti as Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, and Rollin Cook as the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections
What is clear in Lamont’s picks for his staff and leaders of state agencies is that Lamont wants new and experienced people to work for him. Lamont has chosen people from both the private and public sector for his senior staff. Drajewicz as Chief of Staff brings an approach from someone who has worked for both a private corporation and the government. Joe Giulietti as the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation will bring a new perspective to the department. Giulietti previously served as President of Metro-North Railroad and has worked on transportation projects all across the country. Rollin Cook, who previously headed the corrections department in Utah, brings an immense amount of experience in criminal justice and prison reform to the Corrections Department in Connecticut.
Ned Lamont has a herculean task in front of him. All eyes are on him and the people of Connecticut need him to deliver. It is important that the people of Connecticut understand that change will not happen quickly. It can only happen slowly over time and the people of the state need to be patient and proactive.