In her first State of the State Address since taking office last July, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell predicted last week that the state’s 2005 legislative session would be about “difficult choices.”
While pledging to deal with such concerns as education funding and health-care costs, she noted that Connecticut faces a projected deficit of $1.3 billion in the next fiscal year. The state’s total budget now stands at about $14 billion.
“The needs are almost limitless, but the resources of our taxpayers are not,” said Gov. Rell, a Republican, said in the Jan. 5 speech.
Offering few specifics, she pledged a detailed set of proposals when she releases her proposed spending plan next month. Based on statements that she has made earlier, many observers expect the governor to recommend greater support for programs aimed at preparing young children for school.
Debate over any such plans will involve a new cast of lead characters. Although still controlled by Democrats, the House and the Senate have new leaders. Gov. Rell herself assumed her post just six months ago, after Gov. John G. Rowland resigned amid charges he had accepted gifts from people who do business with the state. He has since pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
Ms. Rell, who served as Mr. Rowland’s lieutenant governor, drew a standing ovation as she arrived for her speech to the legislature, which she gave nine days after undergoing surgery for breast cancer. “I am looking through different eyes now,” she said. “Eyes more focused on what is truly important, what is truly necessary.”
A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2005 edition of Education Week