[Editor's note: This story has been updated from its original version]
Calling his legacy a "work in progress," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday that he will not seek a third term in 2018.
Getting choked up at times, and standing by his wife, Cathy Malloy, and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Malloy said he made his decision in stages since last summer and that the announcement will allow him to use his political capital in his remaining 20 months to pass a difficult budget and pursue his policy priorities without worrying about his political future.
Connecticut faces an estimated $3 billion deficit over the next two years. Malloy's proposal relies on achieving nearly $1.6 billion in union concessions and shifting hundreds of millions of teacher pension costs to cities and towns, which critics say will lead to property tax increases.
Asked for an update on the union talks, he said they're continuing and he's "hopeful."
"My proposed budget was built with Connecticut's best interest in mind, regardless of political consequence for me, or anyone else," Malloy said. "And I intend to make the core principles of that budget a reality in the coming months."
Connecticut has struggled to fully rebound from the 2007-2009 recession, but Malloy said he was proud of the more than 74,000 private sector jobs Connecticut has added back since 2010. Unemployment is now at 4.7 percent – its lowest level since 2007, he noted.
"...but I know much is left to be done," he said.
Likening himself to the CEO of a large corporation, Malloy said the state has made progress on education reform, high school graduation rates, and improvements to the criminal justice system.
In deciding not to pursue a third term, he said his decision had nothing to do with low approval ratings.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," he said when asked about those with a negative view of his record, adding that popularity was less important than "straightening out the state's obligations."
He said he will refuse to rely on "gimmicks or one-time fixes."
"Throughout our work, we've tried to play the long game for Connecticut," Malloy said.
The governor said he looks forward to spending more time with his family once he leaves office, including skiing with his sons, but he said he hasn't decided what he will do professionally.
Wyman, who is thought to be one of several potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates, was silent as he said, "I love Nancy Wyman and she's got decisions to make."
During his six years, the 61-year-old former Stamford mayor has ramped up state incentives to both attract and keep business in the state.
He's also been an advocate on environmental issues, pledging in 2015 that the state would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
His administration oversaw the creation of the Connecticut Green Bank, which uses public and private funds to incentivize clean energy and efficiency projects.
Asked Thursday about the business climate and GE moving its headquarters out of Connecticut, Malloy cited his "First Five" program and said his strategy has been about the long haul.
"We'll compete, but the competition we need to be in over the long period is building a long-term economy – the more granular long-term investment," he said.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, predicted that Malloy will continue to be "the same tough negotiator" he's always been as he finishes out the ongoing legislation and his term.
Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano, R-North Haven, who has clashed bitterly at times with Malloy, released a statement wishing Malloy well and saying he looked forward to working with him in the coming months.
"While we may not always see eye to eye, I respect him greatly for his tireless work ethic and dedication to Connecticut," Fasano said. "[Malloy] has led our state during some of its most difficult times and enormous economic challenges. He has governed when our communities had to rebuild following devastating storms and when we all had to heal following unspeakable tragedy."