A keynote address by the sitting governor is a December ritual at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy participated in tradition this morning when he addressed a packed ballroom over breakfast at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell.
But unlike his predecessors, John Rowland and M. Jodi Rell, who used the occasion to deliver a lighthearted address or a poem poking fun at the state’s political establishment, Malloy offered up a serious speech steeped in public policy and light on laughs.
“I don’t do poems,” Malloy told reporters after the speech (this, despite his fondness for quoting Robert Frost.)
“I don’t do humor well,” he added.
In the governor’s view, the chance to spread his message to hundreds of business and community leaders is too great an opportunity to squander on jokes.
”You get a chance to communicate with well over a thousand business leaders in the state. To waste it by devoting a speech to humor or anything else is just that, a wasted opportunity,” Malloy said. “People need to understand where we’re trying to take the state so I exercise those opportunities to share a vision and a mission and the progress as well as the areas we’re slow on. This is an opportunity.”
So instead of jokes, the breakfast crowd got meat-and-potatoes. Malloy spent about 20 minutes highlighting his key initiatives, including an education overhaul and investments in bioscience and digital media.
And he presented a sobering review of the challenges he inherited and the choices he made during his first two years in office.
“Yes, we had to go out and raise revenue and cut services and shrink the size of government and we have done all of that and we will do more because it is not yet enough,” Malloy said.
“But let me assure you, as I stand before you today, looking at a deficit that is one-tenth of what it was two years ago, I know that we’re making progress,” he said.
“Let me assure you, that doing some of the things that we did to get our fiscal house in order well beyond simply saying that we’re going to comply by standards that should have been applied to the state of Connecticut for many years, that in reaching agreements we have saved the state $21 and a half billion over the next 20 years in benefits that other administrations have refused to pay for.”
But ultimately, Malloy’s message was one of optimism. He cited the example of William E. Currlin, a veteran who was honored at the breakfast for his service.
”It’s become popular…to be depressed and to believe your best days are behind you. But the man who was honored here today for his public service in the military and his desire to return to this state to give additional service [underscores] first and foremost: we are Americans. We believe in the future and beyond that, we seize the future and make it our own.”