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Politics

An Exultant Lamont: ‘I’m Happy to Join the Governors’ Club’

By Mark Pazniokas and Clarice Silber

www.ctmirror.org

Edward Miner Lamont Jr., an unlikely Democratic standard-bearer as a wealthy Greenwich businessman whose family tree includes titans of Wall Street and a left-wing philosopher, took office today as the 89th governor of Connecticut, a state buoyed by great wealth and burdened by decades of fiscal mismanagement.

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Ned Lamont takes the oath of office. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) CTMirror.org/Jessica Hill/AP

Lamont, 65, who once told his local paper he looks like a Republican and thinks like a Democrat, faces the challenge of delivering on a campaign that promised a blend of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism to a populace worried by successive years of budget deficits and one of the nation’s biggest unfunded pension liabilities.

His took the oath from his friend, former Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers of the Connecticut Supreme Court, reaching the pinnacle of state politics after losing statewide races for U.S. Senate in 2006 and governor in 2010. At his side was Annie Huntress Lamont, his wife of 35 years and a successful venture capitalist.

On stage were his three children: Emily, 31; Lindsay, 27 and Teddy, 25.

Back for His Fifth Term

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State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg takes the oath of office today in Hartford as he begins his fifth two-year term representing a district that includes most of Westport. He was named as House chair of the Legislature’s Public Health Committee and also serves on the Energy & Technology, Transportation, and Insurance & Real Estate Committees. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) John Hartwell for WestportNow.com

House GOP Vows to be a Check on Democrats’ Spending

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

House Republicans pledged today to remain focused on reforms to shrink state spending in 2019, saying initiatives to expand government or raise revenue via tolls, sports betting or new taxes should wait.

Minority Leader Themis Klarides of Derby and Deputy Minority Leader Vincent J. Candelora of North Branford also said the House GOP would push for stronger deterrents to youth vaping and to redirect some resources from an underutilized New Britain-to-Hartford busway into highway, bridge and rail upgrades.

“Revenue grabs — whether it is higher tax rates, tolls, sports gambling or (legalization and taxation of) recreational marijuana — will not solve our underlying financial problems,” Klarides told reporters during an afternoon briefing in her Capitol caucus room.

“Implementing those revenue initiatives outside of the overall budget debate will not work, and we would not support them in that context because there are significant rippling social and fiscal consequences associated with each.”

Steinberg: New Governor, Old Problems

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On the eve of his—and Ned Lamont’s—swearing in, state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-136) told the Westport Rotary Club today he looks forward to working with the new governor to find solutions to some of Connecticut’s old problems. “We need to double down and get passionate,” said the native Westporter who will be serving his fifth two-year term. Steinberg said finding creative solutions are a necessity in addressing Connecticut’s financial woes and they could include instituting tolls and approving sports betting. Also helpful would be continuing to build the state’s biosciences industries and regionalizing municipal services, he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Lisa Wexler Sworn In for Probate Judge Term

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Westport Town Clerk Patricia Strauss (l) today performs the swearing in for Lisa Wexler as probate judge in Westport-Weston while First Selectman Jim Marpe observes at a ceremony in Town Hall. Wexler was first elected in a special November 2013 contest to finish out a one-year term, again in November 2014 for a four-year term, and in November 2018 for a four-year term. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Haskell Named Senate Chair of Higher Ed Committee

State Sen.-elect Will Haskell (D-26), the Staples High School graduate who defeated veteran Republican lawmaker Republican Toni Boucher in the November election, said today that he has been selected to serve as chairman of the General Assembly’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, and also as vice-chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee.

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee deals with matters relating to public and independent colleges and universities in Connecticut, private occupational schools, post‑secondary education institutions, the state Board of Regents for Higher Education, the state Office of Higher Education,  job-training institutions and programs, apprenticeship training programs, and adult job-training programs.

The Government Administration and Elections Committee deals with matters relating to elections and election laws as well as personnel and labor relations, fire marshals, the fire safety code, the state building code and school building projects, the Freedom of Information Commission, the Office of State Ethics, the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board and the State Elections Enforcement Commission, state and federal relations, interstate compacts, compacts between the state and Indian tribes, constitutional amendments, and other matters

“I’m thrilled to be serving as the Senate chairman of these two committees,” said Haskell, 22. “They fit in well not only with my interests, but with the interests of my constituents.”

No Surprise. This is Not a Governor to go Gentle

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

The topic is awkward, if expected. Without being asked, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy brings up the low poll numbers destined to dog him into political retirement, saying unpopularity was an inevitable consequence of an ambitious agenda he carried into office eight years ago, confronting a record deficit and a fragile economy.

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An afternoon interview with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in his office. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Pazniokas for CTMirror.org

But 20 minutes later, Malloy reconsiders.

Consequences are passive. And this governor can live with most any label but one that suggests acquiescence. No, Malloy says, his unpopularity was a choice made time after time, not a consequence.

“I purposely chose to be unpopular,” Malloy said. “I did every time I took up an issue that someone else had failed to take up. I knew what the response was going to be. And you haven’t talked to a politician who can answer that question in that way. I wasn’t afraid of it. It doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. But I was absolutely not afraid of it. That’s the difference.”

The Millionaire-With-a-Suitcase: Man or Myth?

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Clarice Silber

www.ctmirror.org

For nearly a decade, it has been the favorite argument of those opposed to higher state taxes for Connecticut’s wealthy — migration.

Simply put, if you tax them, they will leave.

For Republicans — and many moderate Democrats — income and wealth migration is not only a very real threat, but a problem that’s already upon us as Connecticut increasingly raises taxes to cover surging pension costs.

Among labor, urban Democrats and other progressives, however, the millionaire-with-a-suitcase is a myth, a fiscal boogey man used to scare liberals.

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A Night for Goodbyes, Celebration — and a Little Intrigue

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Gov-elect Ned Lamont and Nick Balletto, the state Democratic chairman he has declined to endorse for re-election, politely shared a stage today, ignoring the question of Balletto’s future as they bid farewell to the man Lamont succeeds next month, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Malloy, who kept a strategic distance from Lamont during the campaign in recognition of his own low job-approval numbers, embraced the governor-elect, saying he was confident in Lamont’s ability to continue his administration’s successes, notably an end to chronic homelessness and a wide range of prison and criminal justice reforms.

“That’s all work that is going to be carried on by one of the most decent people I have ever worked with in politics, and that’s Ned Lamont,” Malloy told the crowd of several hundred at a $125-a-ticket party fundraiser in a ballroom at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.

Lamont returned the favor, saying, “Dan Malloy is leaving this state in much better shape than he found it.”