State Sens. Joe Markley and Jason Welch
Despite the inevitability of partisan bickering and budget battles to come, Inauguration Day at the Capitol provided a jolt of hope for a state mired in economic misery.
“It’s exciting. Everybody’s starting a new page,” said Steve Casey, a former state senator from Bristol.
With the opening of the General Assembly session and the swearing-in of Gov. Dannel Malloy as the state’s 88th governor, politicians on both sides of the aisle talked about the necessity of facing Connecticut’s woes head on.
“There’s a little bit of a dreamlike aspect to all of this,” said state Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, who was thinking back to his first term in the legislature a quarter century ago.
For state Rep. Frank Nicastro, D-Bristol, the start of the new session is “very exciting” in large part because Malloy is taking hold of the helm.
“We’re going to turn the state around and bring it back,” Nicastro said.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm here,” said state Rep. Betty Boukus, D-Plainville, because of “a blend of old and new” officials and the swearing-in of Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
State Rep. Whit Betts, R-Bristol, said he is also excited at the possibilities.
“I hope we can meet on common ground,” Betts said.
State Sen. Jason Welch, R-Bristol, said that a lot of serious work lies ahead to repair the state’s fortunes and that Republicans and Democrats “disagree on how to fix it.”
But, he said, the Democrats in the Senate have been “very welcoming” and he hopes everyone can settle on a course that will get the economy flowing again and create much-needed jobs.
Malloy said the state has reached “a crossroads of crisis and opportunity” and that if its leaders show strength and compassion, they can fix the state’s finances and economy.
“We will need to solve our problems together – by pursuing with great urgency not Republican ideas or Democratic ideas, but good ideas that know no political master or agenda," Malloy said in his address.
State Rep. Chris Wright, D-Bristol, said the first day is always fun, but he’s sure a long and difficult session lies ahead.
“There’s going to be no easy answers,” Wright said, because every spending cut creates howls from whoever is hurt but somehow the state has to fill a multi-billion hole in its budget.
Sacrifices are going to be required, Wright said, and the need to slice spending and raise taxes is “going to upset people, but that’s what we were elected to do.”
Casey, who works for the state’s information technology department, said it helps “to have a new governor who has a lot of hope and vitality and who is willing to take on the massive challenges we have.”
“We’re ready,” Boukus said.
[And here is the New Britain version of this story, which is actually quite different.]
Two new Bristol lawmakers
Bristol’s two new GOP legislators took office Wednesday morning at the Capitol amidst many family and friends.
The weight of responsibility that comes with the office “hit me for the first time today,” said state Rep. Whit Betts. “It was a very serious moment.”
State Sen. Jason Welch said he’d been so busy that the enormity of the job didn’t really sink in until he stood in the Senate chamber.
As the names of each senator were called one by one, he felt thankful for the opportunity to serve.
“We made it. We’re here,” Welch recalled thinking.
Betts said, “It’s now time to face the music.”
Betts won the open 78th District seat representing northwestern Bristol and Plymouth that longtime GOP lawmaker Bill Hamzy of Terryville gave up when he opted not to seek reelection.
Betts and Welch, who unseated a longtime incumbent to win the 31st District seat, joined three Democratic veterans to make up the city’s legislative delegation. The others are state Reps. Frank Nicastro, Chris Wright and Betty Boukus. Click here for the rest of the story.*****
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