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Connecticut has made progress, but more needed

Giving his annual State of the State address, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said his administration has made progress but there is “a long way to go.”

Appearing before the Connecticut General Assembly Wednesday afternoon, he said the state faced a $3.7 billion deficit when he took office three years ago and today it is offering tax cuts while choosing which school programs will grow.

“For decades, governor after governor has increased taxes and fees; in the land of steady habits, it seemed inevitable,” Lamont said. “But, it was a habit I was hell-bent on breaking.”

Lamont said that he has held the line regarding broad-based tax increases, and this year the state budget will feature tax cuts for the working and middle-class families while reducing health care, child care, and college tuition costs.

While the budgets have become balanced over time, Lamont said, credit rating upgrades are a key factor in attracting people and industry to the state.

Lamont said that over the past three years, the state has been able to pay down billions of dollars in pension debt.

In the coming year, the governor said, the state will invest in children to give them “better opportunities at the starting line of life.”

“We’re investing in teachers, counselors, and after-school programs to help our kids get back in the game after a long COVID winter,” Lamont said.

Lamont said that the state has “tens of thousands of great jobs” that are ready to be filled and the budget will invest “ten times more money” than it has in the past to create programs to give students the skills they need to succeed.

Investment will be made, Lamont said, in trade schools and apprentice programs, while providing tuition-free certificate programs for students of all ages and backgrounds to earn accreditations to secure quality, full-time jobs.

“This investment will train over 10,000 students and job seekers this year in courses designed by businesses around the skills that they need,” Lamont said. “This isn’t just about providing people with credentials; this is about changing people’s lives.”

Lamont said state officials are working with trade unions to develop programs for a new generation of professions, such as laser welders and pipefitters.

“I want students and trainees to take a job in Connecticut, and I want Connecticut employers to hire from Connecticut first,” Lamont said. “To encourage that, we’re expanding a tax credit for small businesses that help repay their employees’ student loans. More reasons for your business to hire in Connecticut, and for graduates to stay in Connecticut …”

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