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HARTFORD, CONN (March 12, 2018) – Today Mayor Bronin delivered his third State of the City address at Hartford City Hall. Mayor Bronin’s full prepared remarks are below.



Council President Thames, members of the Court of Common Council, Treasurer Cloud, Town Clerk Bazzano, members of our delegation to the General Assembly:  Good evening.  Its an honor to serve with you.


To the citizens of our great city, its a privilege to serve you as your Mayor.

To our businesses, small and large, to our community based organizations, to our faith leaders, thank you for your commitment to Hartford. 


To all our city employees, who have done more with much less, whove stayed focused on your mission amidst tremendous uncertainty, and who have partnered with us to put our city on a better path, thank you for all that you do.

And let me just say as an aside – our DPW team is right now getting ready for yet another snow storm, just a couple of days after they did an outstanding job cleaning up from the last nor’easter in time for the St. Patrick’s Day parade.  So let’s give them a hand.


I am grateful for many blessings, but more than anything, I am grateful to have Sara as my wife and partner, and for our three kidsour oldest here tonight.  I love you.


Building a stable foundation


Two years ago, I stood before you in this chamber and reported that we faced a fiscal emergency unprecedented in our citys history. 


Over the past two years, weve faced that crisis honestly and transparently, with confidence in our future and without fear of difficult choices.


We made deep but necessary reductions, cutting nearly 20% of spending on non-public safety departments; consequential cuts that mattered to our city. 


We asked our unions to help us find substantial savings and make structural changes for the long-term, and many of them have.


We asked our corporate partners, philanthropic foundations, and our community as a whole to step up and fill the gaps as the city pulled back, and many of them did.



We prepared for all possibilities.  We had a serious public discussion of all our options, including bankruptcy.  Because, as I said here two years ago, the deepest cuts, the most painful concessions, the elimination of services, and even the most generous help from partners in Hartford all of that will only get us part of the way toward closing the gap in the years ahead.


And as I said here last year, until weve built a new partnership with the State of Connecticut and other stakeholders, we cannot yet take any option off the table.


Thats why, last September, we wrote together to the leadership of our State and laid out the three options before them as they debated the State budget:


One, to provide a short-term infusion of cash, kicking the can and leaving us facing the same crisis next year or the year after — an option that we opposed above all else.


Two, do nothing, and grant us permission to file bankruptcy. 


Or three, join us in building a new partnership, recognizing that our fiscal challenge is rooted in the very structure of our city — a city small to start with, with more than half of its property tax-exempt; a city built on the tax base of a suburb. 


We proposed a new partnership, recognizing that Connecticuts competitiveness and strength depends on having strong and vibrant cities, including the Capital City.


Together, the City Council, the Treasurer, our outstanding state legislative delegation, and our small but mighty budget and finance team built the case and earned the confidence that made that new partnership possible. 


As part of that new partnership, we embraced accountability.  We supported the creation of a Municipal Accountability Review Board.  We are confident in our budgeting, and our books are open. 


Today, we are engaged in discussions with the State Treasurer and the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management about the terms of an agreement to deal with the otherwise insurmountable debt burden that we inherited.


While not yet done, I believe that we will soon be able to do what no administration in many, many years could do: look our residents and taxpayers in the eyes and say that we can project stable, balanced budgets – not for one year, but for years to come. 


Budget stability does not mean that the pressure is off, or that the hard choices are all behind us.  We must continue to look for savings and efficiencies day after day, month after month, year after year.


Capital investments made with city funds will be limited to essential infrastructure only.  And those capital investments we must make will be funded through operating funds, not new borrowing.


Our budgets will be tough and tight.  But we’re used to that.  And by committing to continue the discipline with which we’ve budgeted over the last two years, we will lay a foundation that future administrations, future councils, and future generations can build on.


Moving from stability to strength


Moving beyond stability to true long-term strength depends on our ability to grow and attract investment in the years ahead. 


That’s why, two years ago, we resolved that even as we battled crisis, we would not allow our city or our time in office to be defined by crisis.


This time last year the ballpark had yet to open.  Today, we can look back at forty-one sellouts for the Yard Goats.  Hundreds of Hartford residents worked each game day, Hartford families found affordable entertainment, and tens of thousands of families from around the region rediscovered their Capital City.


This year, the UCONN Hartford campus opened its doors to thousands of students.


Private investors brought the historic Goodwin Hotel back to life. 


The blighted Capewell factory is now a vibrant residential community along the Charter Oak mile.


A new building is going up on Arch Street, 370 Asylum Street is under construction, and the renovation of two buildings vacant for decades on Pearl Street is underway.


Connecticut Children’s Hospital will be moving four hundred employees onto Columbus Boulevard, and United Bank moved two hundred employees to the heart of downtown.


In Blue Hills, Bowles Park is being rebuilt, just next door to where the new Weaver High School is going up.


We secured funding for the demolition of Westbrook Village, clearing the way for redevelopment there.


The Albany Avenue streetscape project will soon begin, after decades on the shelf.


On Homestead Avenue, the demolition process for two large, abandoned factories has begun — the first step toward putting job-creating enterprise back on that critical corridor.


In Frog Hollow, the old Hartford Office Supply building has been renovated — bringing with it private investment in residential buildings and small businesses across the street.


There’s a creative, entrepreneurial community growing on Bartholomew Avenue, where we are finishing the design of a grant-funded streetscape project.   


Looking to the future, weve selected a preferred developer to work with us on the development of that long-empty parcel at the corner of Park and Main; 


Weve received a proposal from an experienced, capable developer for the development of the parcels around the ballpark at Downtown North;


And we are working to see whether its possible for us to negotiate a deal that brings Dillon Stadium back as a community asset, and brings professional soccer to Hartford;

We will pursue those opportunities carefully, deliberately, and in partnership with the community — mindful of the mistakes of the past, but optimistic about the potential opportunities those projects present.


Of course, economic development doesnt just mean big projects.  It also means building up our neighborhoods by fighting blight, block by block. 


Our blight team has worked with NRZs and our 311 team to identify two hundred priority properties.  Nearly one hundred of those properties now have work in progress. 


And our efforts at economic development aren’t limited to buildings.


Two years ago, I said that “we will help build a city that fosters innovation, incubation and entrepreneurship.”


Last summer, five major insurance companies joined together with the City, with CTNext, and with Startup Bootcamp to launch the Hartford InsurTech accelerator — to do the work of identifying, investing in, and mentoring tech startups that can change the game in the insurance industry.


Our insurance companies have been doing that work for years, but they've been doing it in Silicon Valley.  Now they're doing it here, co-located with Upward Hartford, an amazing co-working and incubator space on Church Street.  And they’ve already recruited the first cohort of ten young tech companies.


Just a few months ago, Stanley Black & Decker announced that they, too, would make Hartford the center of their innovation efforts — with an advanced manufacturing center of excellence and an accelerator on Constitution Plaza, in partnership with TechStars.


Together, those two innovation centers will bring dozens of startups to Hartford.


If someone had predicted two years ago that, in the space of just a few months, Startupbootcamp and TechStars — global brands in innovation — would have a presence in Hartford, in partnership with our major local employers, few would have believed it.


And as those accelerators identify startups from around the world and bring them to Hartford, ReSET is supporting and promoting the growth of local social enterprise.

Another team is working to launch the largest maker space in New England at 960 Main.

We piloted a CDBG micro-grant program with small businesses in Parkville, and we’re preparing a similar micro-grant program for small businesses throughout our City.


Hartford was once a center of industrial innovation, and it will be again.  We will continue our efforts both to retain and to recruit businesses big and small to our city — and to build the partnerships that make that possible.  So stay tuned.


Staying focused on a core mission: public safety

As important as our economic development efforts are, our most important mission is our most basic mission public safety. 


No police department and no fire department in the State does what our men and women do.  No fire department in the state responds to more calls for service.  No police department helps more people, or has a deeper commitment to transparency, accountability, and community engagement.

Please join me in thanking them and our emergency services team for the incredible work that they do.

As many of our police and firefighters have reached retirement age and moved on from city service over the last two years, weve recruited aggressively.


Weve recruited more than one hundred twenty firefighters – a Herculean effort by our H.R. team – including forty-five who began the academy this morning.


We funded many of those hires with the second largest federal SAFERgrant in the country, $11 million over three years won through the great work of our Fire Department and terrific grants team.


Faced with a staffing shortfall in our police department, weve recruited nearly fifty officers, with another class starting soon.


Im proud to say that, in both police and fire, weve recruited the most diverse classes ever hired by the City of Hartford. Because we know it’s important that our public safety departments reflect the diversity of the city they serve.


As weve worked to build up our police department, weve also worked to expand the tools they have at their disposal.


Today, were expanding our citywide network of cameras as well as the analytic capabilities at our Capital City Command Center – to help our detectives move quickly to solve violent crimes that in years past might have gone unsolved.

Expanding opportunity

We also know that public safety isnt just about how many men and women we have in uniform, or what tools we give them to work with. Because the best public safety policy is a job.


From day one, we’ve focused on creating opportunities for our young people – and especially those young people who don’t right now see a path to the life they hope to live.


One core element of that effort has been the Hartford Youth Service Corps.


Last year, more than two hundred Corps members did more than eighty-five thousand hours of paid work, serving our community – building playgrounds, clearing trails, shoveling snow for their elderly or disabled neighbors.


To date, we’ve secured $5 million in private funding to build the Youth Service Corps, and we now have more than two hundred fifty young people serving as Corps members.

Beyond the Youth Service Corps, Hartford is fortunate to have outstanding partners working with our young people, from the YMCA to the Boys and Girls Clubs to the Village for Families and Children and a great team in our Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation. 

But all too often, the organizations that work with our young people dont work closely enough with each other.


Through the Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative, weve brought dozens of organizations together around one table.


Learning from the success of the Coordinated Access Network in reducing chronic homelessness in Greater Hartford, were building a way for those organizations to share information, so that young people dont fall through the cracks.


I am as proud of the Youth Service Corps and the Opportunity Youth Collaborative as I am of anything weve done in the last two years together, because those efforts are about helping young men and women find a reason to be hopeful about their future.


Of course, hope shouldnt just be for our youth.  As a State, weve taken big steps to correct decades of misguided criminal justice policies with vast racial disparities.


At the local level, the most important thing we can do to make a second chance society a reality is to help returning citizens successfully re-enter our community.  


That’s why weve worked with Community Partners in Action to plan the creation of a Reentry Welcome Center.  Im proud to announce that, with generous support from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Center will open in City Hall this year.


The Center will give one hundred fifty returning citizens the support they need as they rebuild their lives.


Like the Youth Service Corps, the reentry center could serve ten times as many and still leave needs unmet.  But we hope to build a model that can grow in the future.


As we work to give second chances to those whove made mistakes, there’s so much more we need to do to give our children better chances to begin with.


Last fall, Bloomberg Philanthropies asked cities to come up with creative solutions to their most pressing problems.  Our team decided to focus on the difficult issue of childhood trauma linked to gun violence.

In the wake of heartbreaking tragedies like we saw down in Parkland, there’s often discussion of the importance of wrapping those kids and those families in services and support.  The violence our community experiences is of a different character than those mass shootings.  But lives are lost too often in our city – and that violence is no less devastating, and no less traumatic.


All too often, those who witness gun violence in our community including our youngest kids do not get the acknowledgment, the support, the comfort or counseling they need. 


Our proposal, Alleviating Child Trauma in Our Neighborhoods or ACTION, earned us a spot as a finalist for the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge competition one of thirty-five chosen, out of more than three hundred submissions.


Well be refining our proposal in the coming months.  But whether or not we win a grant to implement our idea, it’s an example of how we are confronting our challenges creatively and collaboratively, even during this time of fiscal constraint.


Responding to rising challenges


Fiscal challenges, police recruiting, the youth service corps, blight remediation, reentry, and public safety these were all key areas we promised to focus on before we took the oath of office. 


In recent months, we’ve had to respond to troubling trends, and unexpected tests.


As opioid and especially Fentanyl deaths have mounted around our state, our firefighters last year saved three hundred eighty-two lives through the administration of Narcan.


And as tragic vehicle fatalities jumped in recent months, our police department has used grants to step up enforcement.  We’re preparing to install more than one hundred new speed humps around the city.  And we’ve engaged with our partners around the region and at the State to respond together to the rising incidence of car thefts across town lines. 


No new challenge has been larger than the devastation wrought by hurricanes Irma and Maria.


In the days after those storms, we all heard from countless residents, including members of our City Council, who could not reach loved ones.  No word on whether fathers, sisters, grandparents had survived the storm, or whether they had food or water.


Following those storms, thousands of individuals and families came to our state, many of them to Hartford. 


Our federal government promised they would be there for Puerto Rico and every state affected by disaster every day,supporting familiesthroughoutour response and recovery.


The federal government did not live up to that promise.  But our community stepped up.


Our Hartford delegation and our Council members joined with community groups and residents to gather supplies to meet the immediate needs.


Hartford Public Schools found books and supplies and coats for students, and welcomed nearly five hundred new students to our classrooms. 


The Capitol Region Education Council took the lead on setting up a relief center.


Our department of Health and Human Services is working side by side with incredible organizations like the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and CRT to help make sure families stay connected to those agencies.


Many of those who have come to our city in the wake of those devastating storms still live in uncertainty about their future – their homes and their livelihoods. 


We are proud to welcome our fellow citizens to our city, and we will continue to fight hard for the resources and support they need. This afternoon, I spoke to the Governor’s office and we have a clear and common commitment to ensuring that no family who loses FEMA shelter assistance in Hartford will be left without housing.


Leading locally


The federal governments abdication of responsibility when it comes to hurricane recovery isnt an aberration.  Its what weve come to expect of Presidential administration that prides itself on divisiveness, and denies the basic principle that we are stronger together.


President Trump promised to invest in cities.  Instead, hes proposed to slash Community Development Block Grant funds, housing funds, and food and heating assistance, which affect our most vulnerable families most. 


Hes cut programs like teen pregnancy prevention funding, which helped Hartford reduce the teen birth rate by more than 40%.


With a leadership void in the White House, it is our responsibility at the local level to try to fill the gap, wherever we can.  


President Trump’s agency heads have rolled back environmental protections and removed the words climate changefrom U.S. Government websites.  We adopted a comprehensive Climate Action Plan and set the goal of making Hartford a national leader in environmental responsibility.


The Trump Administration worked to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood.   In Hartford, we promoted enrollment in the ACA, and cut the ribbon on a brand new Planned Parenthood on Albany Avenue.   It provides primary medical care, and yes, it protects a womans right to choose.


Together we passed a thoughtful ordinance that prevents crisis pregnancy centers from deceiving women after we learned they were luring” – their words women away from a reproductive health center.


Most divisive and destructive of all, the Trump Administration has sown fear in cities across the country by targeting immigrant communities and trying to force local law enforcement to break the relationships of trust that they’ve built with those they serve.


Italian immigrants, Irish immigrants, Jewish immigrants, Jamaican immigrants and immigrants from other West Indian and Caribbean islands, immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, migrants from the South or from Puerto Rico, and our proud LGBTQ community have all made Hartford stronger.


If the federal government wants to help take dangerous criminals off our streets, well work with them.  But we wont be silent when they go after someone who works a steady job and takes care of a sick parent.  We wont be silent when they impersonate our police to detain our residents.  That doesnt make us safer, it makes us weaker.


It makes us weaker when our national leadership makes our neighbors feel less than American, less than fully valued, less than fully protected because of who they are, who they love, how they identify, where they’re from, or how they look.

And it makes us weaker when our President legitimizes the most hateful, intolerant, and racist voices in our country.


As the federal government rejects the ideals to which our nation has always aspired, well continue to be a welcoming city that finds beauty and strength in our diversity.



Our city is the cultural and economic heart of this region of more than a million people.  A great city, in a great state.  A city that’s faced challenges, as our state faces challenges.

Our mission is to make our city healthy and strong, and to ensure that all of our residents have a share in Hartford’s future.


We didn’t sign up for the easy job.  We signed up to get a great city back on track.

Weve made hard choices and resisted quick fixes.  Weve been honest about our challenges, and proud of our strengths.  Weve governed without fear, and we’ve focused on the long term. 

We don’t – we cannot – work alone.  We’ve worked together, in partnership with each other, and in partnership with so many passionate, dedicated individuals and organizations who love and work for and fight for this city.

Our NRZs, our churches, our non-profits.  Our partners in labor.  Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez and the Board of Education, who serve more than twenty thousand beautiful, brilliant children – and who’ve had the courage to make hard but necessary change.  Bridget Quinn-Carey and her incredible team at the Hartford Public Library.  Our State Reps and State Senators, and our federal delegation, all of whom work so hard on Hartford’s behalf. 

And the hundreds – thousands – of residents who volunteer, who show up, who never claim credit.  They – you – are the true source of our city’s resilience and strength. 

Our work isn’t done.  The work of building and stewarding a city never is. 

But I am proud to report to you, that while we have much work left to do together, the state of our city is better and stronger than it has been in a long, long time.  Our foundation is more sound, and our future is more certain. 

And no matter what comes our way in the years ahead, we all know this: Hartford is a city that never gives up.  We never have, and we never will. 

God bless you, and may God bless the City of Hartford.



HARTFORD CITY HALL ADDRESS: 550 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103 PHONE: (860)757-9311 HOURS: 8AM - 5PM