The Capitol Beat: November 7

November 7, 2018

Governor-Elect Upbeat After Win, Says He’ll Name Transition Team by Week’s End; House Dems Hold Presser to Discuss Election, Next Steps

Governor-elect Ned Lamont addressed the media at noon and said he’s is going to hit the ground running and is ready to “shake up Hartford and start bringing back jobs and businesses” to Connecticut.

“This is a fresh start,” Lamont said and added that the mandate this election for both parties seemed to be the need for change. Lamont said he will abide by his campaign pledges. “I am not going to raise income taxes and will slowly try to reduce property taxes,” he said. In addition, Lamont said he would push for tolls solely on out-of-state trucks as a means of raising revenue. (Note: Presumably any toll money raised would have to be dedicated to transportation funding per the ballot initiative approved by voters yesterday. That initiative creates a “lockbox” to protect transportation infrastructure funding from being raided for other uses).

Finally, Lamont said he would have a transition team and transition Chief of Staff named by week’s end.
Between now and January when he is sworn in, Lamont said he would be reaching out to his budget and business advocacy teams and labor representatives to vet ideas for restoring Connecticut’s languishing economy.

With Recounts Pending in House Speaker’s Race and possibly the 101st House District, House Dems still Project Net Pick Up of 12 seats, Widening Margin to 92-59

House Speaker Aresimowicz was confident, despite a recount in his own district and another in the 101st (currently held by Republican Noreen Kokoruda), that the House Democratic Caucus would see a net increase of 12 seats. That will bring the vote margin to 92-59.

In an afternoon news conference, the Speaker said his caucus would meet tomorrow to re-elect Rep. Matt Ritter, D-1, to Majority Leader and move quickly to prepare for the start of the legislative session in January.

The Speaker said he was excited to work with Governor-elect Ned Lamont and the more robust Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, but vowed to stop partisan bickering and to reach across the aisle and get things done. When asked by reporters about various issues, the Speaker and Majority Leader indicated the following things may be considered or discussed next session, including:
• Taxes (e.g. income, estate and property taxes).
• Tolls.
• Minimum wage increase.
• Casinos.
• Crumbling foundations.

It is noteworthy that, if the House and Senate numbers hold, the Democrats will have the 3/5ths majority in each chamber necessary to override the constitutional limits placed upon them by the spending cap as well as the statutory limits on revenue imposed on them by the “volatility cap” The volatility cap limits the amount of revenue the state can use from estimated income tax payments to fund the budget. Given these new margins, a bipartisan budget would not be needed if the Democrats in both chambers can obtain and hold the votes of all their members.

In closing, Aresimowicz announced that he would not be seeking another term as Speaker after this two-year term ends.

Finally, the preliminary Democratic margin in the Senate has increased by six, Senate President Marty Looney, D-New Haven, told reporters in a separate media availability. A recount is pending in GOP Senator George Logan’s district. The current Senate makeup is tied 18-18.