Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, a Republican, focused on ways to create jobs and cut the deficit in a sobering state of the state address Feb. 3. She called out the state's Democratic-controlled legislature for partisan bickering at a time when a devastating economic recession has thrown 94,000 residents out of work and caused a deep fiscal crisis.
Residents, she said "want action and assistance. And they want an end to the theatrical histrionics of political press conferences and partisan pinball. They want us to act like adults," she said, adding: "I'm not scolding. I'm not lecturing. I'm beseeching you: Act. Lead."
On jobs, Rell said she wants a $500 million loan fund financed by the state and private banks to help businesses stay afloat. She also proposed creating a job tax credit of $2,500 for each job created by a small business. The state budget already includes $10 million for the proposal, she said, which could help create 4,000 new jobs.
The governor hailed green technology as a way to bring renewable energy and jobs to the state. She outlined a program to forgive $2,500 a year in college costs for Connecticut graduates with degrees in green technology, renewable energy life sciences or health information technology who stay in the state. She also said she wanted equipment used to create green energy exempted from the state's sales tax.
To make a dent in the state's $500 million deficit, Rell called on the legislature to cancel bond authorizations that have been sitting on the state's books for five years without being spent.
"If a project is not worthy enough to be approved after five or more years then we probably shouldn't bond for it and pay 20 years of interest on it," she said.
She also outlined plans for a new working group to tackle the state's unfunded liabilities — $9.3 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $24.6 billion for health care for retirees.
Rell urged lawmakers to designate half of any surplus to the state's rainy day fund and called for new bipartisan task forces to look at state spending and recommend ways to more efficiently operate government.
"I intend to do everything in my power in my remaining months in office to make the changes that are needed to break insatiable spending habits and to make state government affordable once again," she said.