Gov. Dannel P. Malloy didn't actually offer his take on the state of Connecticut in his "State of the State" address, but his impassioned delivery before the General Assembly today painted with a broad brush a picture of the budget, pensions, education and the environment.
His focus, though, was Newtown.
A Democrat in his first term, Malloy's speech comes on the first day of a new legislative session and nearly a month since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School left 20 children and six educators dead. The events in Newtown have shaken communities across the state and put Connecticut in the national spotlight with a — and they reshaped Malloy's speech.
"It won't surprise you that this speech is very different from the one I first envisioned giving," he said. "In the early days of December, I began thinking about what I’d like to say. Now, while it’s only been a few short weeks on the calendar, we have all walked a very long and very dark road together."
"What befell Newtown is not something we thought possible in any of Connecticut’s beautiful towns or cities. And yet, in the midst of one of the worst days in our history, we also saw the best of our state."
Malloy paused, and visibly choked up, he continued:
- "Teachers and a therapist that sacrificed their lives protecting students."
- "A principal and school psychologist that ran selflessly into harm’s way."
- "Our brave Connecticut State Police, Newtown’s local law enforcement, firemen, and others that responded courageously when called upon."
- "In the aftermath, a selectwoman, a superintendent, and other local officials that have served around-the-clock bringing comfort and stability to Newtown."
"And today," he continued, "Sandy Hook’s teachers are doing what they do best: putting the interest of their students first as they return to classrooms, providing stability and continuity that has never been so important and so needed."
"And then, of course, there are the families. Twenty-six families that despite an unimaginable loss have gotten up each and every day since, have been there for one another, and have supported their community as much as that community has supported them."
"Let us do everything in our power to ensure that Connecticut never again suffers such a loss; that we take real steps to make our kids and our communities safer."
"And when it comes to preventing future acts of violence in our schools, let me say this: more guns are not the answer. Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher, and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom," Malloy said. "That is not who we are in Connecticut, and it is not who we will allow ourselves to become."
While Malloy acknowledged that the issue of guns is something that spans state borders and, therefore, demands national action, he said Connecticut's focus must be on what it can do to better protect its citizens.
"Those conversations won't always be easy," he said, "but as your Governor I’ve learned there is no challenge we will face that can’t be overcome with the power of our community."
That theme of togetherness and community — and what can be accomplished when it outweighs all other forces — was woven throughout the governor's speech as he touched upon the major issues facing the state, including:
- Economy and jobs
- Budget and pensions
- Energy and the environment
State Rep. Livvy Floren (R-150), representing Greenwich and a part of Stamford, said, "With the backdrop of the tragedy of Sandy Hook, the appalling gridlock in Washington and the looming $1 billion deficit in Connecticut, Governor Malloy dwelled upon the need to face these challenges head on as a community, in a bi-partisan way."
The seven-term representative added, "The governor’s three initiatives for the biennium will be job creation-business attraction; pre-school public education; and affordable energy. I think his desire to solve our fiscal problems in an inclusive, respectful manner is totally sincere, and I pledge to be a part of the solution."
In his speech, Malloy also said, "My friends, as we begin this legislative session let us be guided by devotion to the common good, by faith in one another, and by a determination to work together to make our community as strong as it can be in every way."
For more detail on what Malloy said on each of those topics, as well as the Sandy Hook School shooting, his full speech is attached as a PDF.
*Local editor Barbara Heins contributed to this report.