These are the remarks delivered by Gov. M. Jodi Rell on statewide television Monday, February 2, 2009, two days before she releases a budget she describes as painful.
Good evening and thank you for sharing a few minutes of your time.
An evening address such as this is unusual. But so, too, are these times in which we are living.
In fact, most of us have never witnessed the economic turmoil that now grips our nation.
It seems every day brings unexpected – and unwelcome – news. More layoffs. More bankruptcies. More business failures.
These are not just numbers found in a newspaper story or seen on the TV news. Behind every number is a person, a family – and their security and their dreams for the future.
Their individual stories are unique … but their fears, their concerns, are not – for we all share them.
It’s a time of great uncertainty. But this much I know: The people of Connecticut are strong, determined and resilient.
We have been challenged in the past – and we have prevailed. And we will prevail this time as well.
Ours is a state of innovation, ingenuity and intense pride.
To be sure, there will be times of trial and tears in the weeks and months ahead.
One thing that will never be in question is that we are in this together. United in purpose, bound by our humanity and our concern for one another.
I am proud to be your Governor and I am unbowed by the challenges before us.
For great challenges bring great opportunities – opportunities for much needed change.
In two days’ time I will be presenting a recommended state budget to the Legislature for the next two years. In many ways, it is a budget unlike any that has been presented in recent memory.
It is a budget that sets a fundamentally new vision for state government.
A smaller government.
A less expensive government.
A more efficient government.
And most importantly, a government that is more in line with what you – our taxpayers – can afford.
One thing you cannot afford is a higher tax bill. That’s why my budget does not raise taxes.
After all, it makes no sense to raise taxes when the taxes we already collect are down – way down.
Income tax revenue is down.
Sales tax revenue is down.
Corporate tax revenue is down.
People don’t have money to spend, because they have either lost their jobs or are afraid they will.
The deficit we are facing this current fiscal year, which ends June 30, is nearly $1 billion. The red ink for the next two years – the period covered by my proposed budget – is nearly $8 billion.
With revenues falling and deficits rising, it’s vital that state spending come down. And it does come down, under my budget.
I have worked long and hard on my plan – and yes, it calls for sacrifice. It makes cuts that will be painful.
My budget does what your family budget does – it pays for those things that we must have and it sets aside those things that are nice to have but that we cannot afford to pay for right now.
Families are making these same tough decisions every day – finding ways to cut back.
State government must do the same.
There will be some, particularly those in government, who say we can’t, we shouldn’t, cut so much.
And there will be special interests – many of whom get their money from government – saying, “How could you?”
They will be calling for new and higher taxes, saying it’s an issue of balance and fairness.
Of course they will never admit that it’s you who will be paying those taxes, because in the end it always is you. Tax increases balanced on your backs when you can least afford it is hardly fair.
Yes, they will protest and petition – in fact, many have already started, just knowing that I will not raise taxes and that I am cutting spending in my budget.
That is their right.
And they will be right in that some of the cuts will be painful – they are cuts I wish I did not have to make.
But it is my obligation as your Governor to do what is right in these tough economic times, to protect you and your family and to position Connecticut to succeed and to soar when the economic recovery comes.
And that means cutting spending. Living within our means. And not raising taxes at a time when people are losing jobs and are not able to pay the bills they currently have.
This is a time of great challenge and great opportunity. A time to remake, and refocus, state government.
A time to come together, to work together, to help one another through our difficulties.
And I am confident that we will endure, that we will meet our challenges head on – and that we will create incredible new opportunities along the way.
Thank you for your time tonight and God Bless the Great State of Connecticut.