Preparations under way for Connecticut’s new governor
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut is poised to have its first new governor in eight years, and a lot has to be done before Democratic Gov.-elect Ned Lamont takes the oath of office on Jan. 9.
The transition has so far included tasks like packing up numerous documents from outgoing Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration for the State Library archives, reserving temporary space in the state Capitol for Lamont’s team and setting up a website where people can apply for a job in the new administration.
Lamont has announced plans for a policy summit on Tuesday at Eastern Connecticut State University, where advisers and the public will discuss issues ranging from agriculture to the arts.
Some key undertakings were finished before voters even went to the polls. Malloy had asked each of his state commissioners to craft reports outlining their respective agency’s priorities and future needs for the winner of the election. Also, Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, has already provided Lamont with a tentative budget, as required by state law. Intended as a starting point for Lamont’s first tax-and-spending plan, Barnes offered suggestions for possible areas to cut and possible revenue-generating opportunities, such as recreational marijuana sales.
“This is going to be a smooth, and productive and constructive transition,” promised Lamont, shortly after Election Day.
Here are highlights of what’s happening with the changeover from Malloy to Lamont:
Lamont announced last week the two men who will lead his Talent Search Committee, a group charged with seeking candidates for commissioner and deputy commissioner posts.
Kevin Myatt, senior vice president for human resources at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and John Denson, a senior client partner at a the international recruiting firm Korn Ferry, will be choosing the “top people for the top roles” in the administration, said Lieutenant Gov.-elect Susan Bysiewicz. She said both have decades of experience in the recruitment.
Lamont’s campaign has created a new website where prospective employees can submit their resumes and apply for appointed positions within the administration. Bysiewicz said applicants should let the transition team know where they’d like to work and their qualifications. The same website allows people to volunteer with the transition and offer suggestions.
“We’re so happy that already we’ve received hundreds of resumes from people across the state and even outside of the state who would like to help us get Connecticut back on track,” Bysiewicz said.
Lamont has not ruled out keeping some of Malloy’s commissioners, but said he is “looking for new blood where it’s necessary.” Several of Malloy’s top agency heads have already left the administration in recent days.
A new coalition of Latino groups has begun to accept resumes as well. It hopes to provide Lamont with access to hundreds of names of qualified Latinos for senior level jobs, as well as appointments to boards, commissions and the judicial system.
When Lamont takes office, he’ll face a nearly $2 billion shortfall in the state’s main spending account for the next fiscal year. The red ink is projected to grow to nearly $2.4 billion the following year — a sizeable challenge considering Connecticut’s state budget is roughly $20 billion a year. Lamont is expected to release his first, two-year budget plan in early February.
Barnes provided a list of budget-cutting suggestions for Lamont to consider. It’s unclear how many of those recommendations Lamont will consider. He has already formed a small budget team that has been meeting at the Office of Policy and Management, “going over this budget we can hit the ground running,” he said.
Lamont and Bysiewicz announced Friday the formation of 15 Transition Policy Committees that will craft recommendations on issues ranging from agriculture to the arts. A policy summit is planned for Tuesday at Eastern Connecticut State University, where the committees will meet for the first time. Members of the public will also be able to suggest ideas to the policy committees at breakout sessions.
“Our policy committees will bring together some of Connecticut’s sharpest minds to help Susan and me make our vision for the state a reality,” Lamont said. The committee members include leaders from business, labor, academia, nonprofit organizations, and local and state government.
Lamont, a businessman and founder of a cable company, has already met with fellow governors-elect from across the country. He attended the recent National Governors Association meeting in Colorado shortly after the election. Bysiewicz is scheduled to attend a similar meeting this week in Virginia with the National Lieutenant Governors Association.
The two have been briefed on state ethics rules and held private meetings with Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. In addition to meeting with Malloy’s commissioners, they’ve also had private discussions around the state with legislators, municipal officials and representatives of businesses, higher education, nonprofit agencies and other entities.
Meanwhile, Malloy and his wife Cathy are expected to move out of the governor’s official residence in Hartford in time for Lamont’s inauguration. The staff has been preparing for the big move. While Lamont plans to keep his home in Greenwich, he recently said he expects to spend a lot of time in Hartford and will likely stay at the residence, a stately Georgian Colonial built in 1909.