Governor Lamont Gives State of the State
Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut gave his state of the state, focusing on several main topics for his agenda in the year of 2022. His key points focused on the state’s economy, infrastructure, healthcare, and crime.
Governor Lamont began his discussion of the future by focusing on the effort to fill all of the jobs that have recently been created throughout Connecticut. In his budget he included an increase in the investment for workforce development that is ten times the amount ever seen in that area before. Lamont says that this investment puts a hyper focus on trade schools, apprentice programs, and tuition-free certificate programs, giving students the ability to have all of the credentials for a good paying job in a very short period of time. His goal is to have this investment train more than 10,000 students and job seekers this year alone. The Governor also announced the expansion of a tax credit for small businesses. Businesses would be eligible for this tax credit if they help their employees pay for their student loans. This expansion looks to encourage businesses to hire from within Connecticut and for graduates to stay in the state.
Lamont also hopes to continue lowering the taxes for low-income and middle-class families. One way he is going about this is by proposing property tax reform worth $300 million. He also hopes to double the number of families who can claim the state’s property tax credit. The governor also touched on a reduction in automobile taxes. He says that this reduction would be likely to cut the cost of car tax bills in 100 towns and by hundreds of dollars per car. Continuing on with the tax cuts, Lamont said that they will be eliminating income taxes on pension and 401K income for a majority of households in the state. Closing out his remarks on the economy, the Governor said that Connecticut is getting closer to a minimum wage of $15 and an additional tax cut of up to $1,200 per year for working families.
Lamont opened his discussion on infrastructure by recognizing the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed at the federal level in 2021, saying that over $1 billion would be pumped into the state’s infrastructure each year. He then spoke of the new central transportation hub for Connecticut, which will be located at Union Station in New Haven. Lamont said that this station will have express trains that cut the round-trip to New York by approximately an hour. He also touched on the building of hundreds of apartments, thanks to promises of two-way rail transport between Bridgeport and Waterbury.
Lamont continued the topic of infrastructure by talking about the expansion to high-speed internet throughout the state. He promised the extension of broadband to rural and urban areas alike that, to this point, have remained cut off because of the “digital divide.” On the topic he said, “We already added free Wi-Fi to many town greens, schools, and libraries so you can do everything from Brooklyn, Connecticut that you can from Brooklyn, New York.”
Governor Lamont also spoke of the terrible storms, such as Hurricanes Ida and Henry, that have caused major power outages and large amounts of flooding. He says that thanks to the infrastructure funds now available, they will be able to put a down payment on flood control, which would allow them to move electric substations out of harm’s way. And on the topic of electricity and energy, Lamont announced that the state’s electric grid will soon be carbon free, with the transportation system following it soon after. He proposed funding for hundreds of electric charging stations, hoping to transition to a completely electric fleet. He also spoke of the conversion to all electric school buses and city buses, in an attempt to lower air pollution, especially in areas with high rates of asthma.
Governor Lamont’s remarks on healthcare were brief, but provided a few key points. First, he spoke of the program just recently passed in the state to support paid medical and family leave for employees throughout the state. He also spoke of the Covered Connecticut program, which was passed last year and has helped 4,000 residents with no-cost healthcare through Access health. This is a program he hopes to continue moving forward. Lamont also touched on the importance of lowering costs on prescription drugs in the state. He proposed legislation that would help to safely import lower-cost prescription drugs, put a cap on prescription drugs with “run away prices”, and to make the cost of prescription drugs more transparent. He closed his remarks on healthcare by expressing his hopes on doubling the budget for hazard pay to $40 million as a way to support frontline workers.
Governor Lamont’s final major area of focus was crime. He spoke of the rising rates of things like hate crime, shootings, and illegal weapons on the streets. His budget called for the creation of a special illegal gun unit, which would work with neighboring states to help track down major illegal gun traffickers. He also spoke of the attempts happening right now to allow for more than 400 new officers to be trained and hired throughout the ten largest cities and towns in the state. Lamont also asked the legislature to get voting done quickly for the nominees he has selected to become judges in the state. He also asked them to support funding for new prosecutors and public defenders.
Governor Lamont also spoke of a slightly different approach to lowering the rate of violent crime in the state. His budget proposed funding for things like more confidential counseling in schools, as it was something that many students had been asking for. He also spoke of programs such as the Police Athletic League in Waterbury, which is allowing for more connection between kids and local police officers. He closed out these remarks on crime by stressing the importance of top ethical practices within the government, and promised to hold all state departments and employees to the highest ethical standards.
The position of Governor is up for election this year, and Ned Lamont is running for reelection. Connecticut residents will be able to head to the polls and vote in the state’s primaries on August 9.