Lieutenant Governor tells crowd: "GCC students are valued"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More than 100 people turned out November 27 at Gateway Community College (GCC) to hear Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman speak on a wide range of issues. Wyman addressed Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s administration’s plans to trim the state budget deficit, create new jobs and close the educational achievement gap.

Wyman also had warm praise for the role GCC plays in Connecticut. “It’s great to be here in this new building,” Wyman said. “Gateway is truly a community school for people for all ages. The atmosphere of learning created here is very important for our city, for our state and for our country.”  Wyman said the community college’s role is vital in today’s economy, providing students with training that allows them to move “from the classroom to a job.”

The event was organized by GCC Professor Kerin Lee and Don Dimenstein, former director of New Haven’s Department of Elderly Services, and was co-sponsored by the Sages, a Gateway senior citizen organization that has thrived on campus for 25 years. Seniors were bused in from centers throughout the city and lunch was provided by Brazi’s Restaurant.

“Nancy Wyman is a friend to the college and to our students. She is a friend to seniors and we were so fortunate to have such a dynamic speaker here with us again,” Dr. Lee said. Dimenstein added, “It’s very important that seniors are hearing things directly from the Lieutenant Governor on issues that impact their lives.”

Wyman was welcomed with the song “Stars” from Les Miserables sung by Max Ivanov, with accompaniment by Gwen Hillman, both of the GCC music department. Dr. Ivanov thanked the Lieutenant Governor for the administration’s support of the new Gateway campus by telling her that, “What this building tells our students is that they are respected, that they are valued, that their future is valued.”

Wyman told that crowd that the state faces significant challenges in the coming year, with a budget deficit of $365 million, down from the $3.5 billion deficit their administration faced upon entering office almost two years ago. In that time, she said they reduced state agencies from 81 to 60, cut the state workforce by about five percent and revamped pension plans. She said more cuts are coming, and that sales revenue needs to rebound this holiday season and into next year. She quipped that while she doesn’t endorse gambling, if any seniors in the audience were heading to a Connecticut casino soon, they might want to stop at the slot machines, as that revenue aids the state budget.

Several seniors asked about programs that affect people living on fixed incomes such as Medicare and a farmer’s market subsidy program. Wyman said she is hopeful that Medicare benefits seniors receive now will not be changed under the Affordable Care Act.

The Lieutenant Governor said the administration has many goals for the coming year including finding ways to provide services to the 7,000 veterans who will be coming home to Connecticut following their service in Afghanistan.

"They have done an unbelievable job for us,” she said.

Before leaving, Wyman regaled the crowd with a light-hearted anecdote about getting used to being the Lieutenant Governor. Last Christmas when sending out her holiday cards, she wasn’t quite sure how to sign them. She decided on “LG” for Lieutenant Governor. When the children of family friends got theirs, they said, “Lady Gaga sent us a card!” Wyman said she promptly went out and got a tall pair of heels.

Laura Carlson and Roberta Ryan, co-presidents of the Sages, said they enjoyed her talk. “Having been the comptroller, she understands the financial concerns of the state and she shares that information with us,” Carlson said.

“She’s interesting and informative and she tells a good joke,” Ryan added.