HARTFORD -- Connecticut is at a crossroads. We are just a few days away from the baton of leadership being handed to Governor-Elect Ned Lamont. Inauguration Day is Wednesday.
Lamont got his shot and he says he's not going to waste is. Governor-Elect Ned Lamont will usher in fresh leadership and a new vision for Connecticut.
Political pomp and circumstance will be on full display in the week ahead. “I'm getting up bright and early. I need you getting going bright and early. I need you standing up. I need us working together. Are you with me?” asked Lamont after winning the election.
Ned Lamont is poised to become Connecticut's 89th Governor.
“This is a new relationship. This is a fresh start,” he said.
The Greenwich businessman will be sworn-in Wednesday amid the fanfare of a parade, speech to the legislature, and an inaugural ball. They will be the final moments of a transition honeymoon. Transition has been the name of the game since November.
“We put together some policy teams. We thought we we're going to have about 100 people show up to help, we had about 450,” said Lamont.
He formed 15 policy committees and asked them to make recommendations on everything from transportation, to jobs and the economy.
“I think today's meeting was an example of how collaborative and open the Governor-Elect is,” remarked Lt. Gov.-Elect Susan Bysiewicz at a previous policy committee meeting.
Lamont quickly formed a cabinet and made about 100 hires and Commissioner appointments.
“We've been preparing. I've been blessed with a really great team of folks. Everybody we've asked to serve is serving,” said the Governor-Elect.
And he got some help from a former rival, turned ally…Governor Dannel Malloy.
“My pledge to myself that I made 8 years ago is that we would treat any incoming administration, Democratic or Republican, as well as we possibly could and substantially better than I had been,” said Malloy.
January 9th is back to business and priority #1 will be the budget. Lamont needs to have one ready to go by February. He's facing a $2-billion dollar deficit and won't use the rainy day fund.
“I'm going to do the best I can to put an honest budget on the table. I'll listen to every good idea. We'll make the changes, as long as they are real,” he said.
He won't fight alone. A blue wave in November put Democrats in control of both the house and senate. “Weigh-in. I like having everybody weigh-in with their ideas and I'm open to their ideas. Look, I'm going to work with Republicans and Democrats,” said the Governor-Elect.
Items on the Ned Lamont to-do list include tolls and taxes. He told Fox 61 he's sticking to his campaign promise to lower the property tax and only put tolls of commercial tractor trailers.
“My thought is what I told people for six months. Let's start with tractor trailer trucks. I think I can get that passes. That gives us the revenue we need to start fixing our roads and bridges,” said Lamont.
Also on the agenda…legalizing recreational marijuana, raising the minimum wage, paid family medical leave, and sports betting.
“So I think these are some programs we are going to get done. But my number one priority is going to be job training, workforce development, education,” explained Governor-Elect Lamont.
The new leadership extends to the state Democratic party overall. They will be shepherded by outgoing Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, who was asked to be the state party chair. “Maybe each state central committee person can bring a young person to the meetings,” said Lieutenant Governor Wyman.
Fixing Connecticut won't happen in a day, and maybe not even a term. But Lamont told Fox 61 he is optimistic and ready to lead. “Oh we're ready to go. We're ready to go. I was so happy that campaign was over and you know you are ready to govern you are ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work,” said the Governor-Elect.
If you'd like to participate in Wednesday's inauguration at the Armory, the swearing-in ceremony and the parade are free. You can also purchase tickets to the inaugural ball at the Convention Center.