HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday gave an upbeat assessment of the state and its finances, countering calls from some of his fellow Democrats to raise taxes on the wealthy so more money can be spent on higher education and social services, as well as to help people struggling to make ends meet.

The two-term governor, a multimillionaire himself, lauded the fact that the two-year $51-billion budget passed last year on a bipartisan vote “is still in the black” unlike most of the Connecticut’s peer states.

“And people are noticing,” Lamont told a joint session of the Democratic controlled General Assembly on opening day of the short, 13-week legislative session. “Unlike our neighboring states, which are losing population, Connecticut has gained population over the last few years.”

As Lamont was about to address state lawmakers, groups of protesters scattered throughout the state Capitol building began chanting “cease fire” and unfurling banners calling for the U.S. stop funding Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

There was an unusually large contingent of police at the Capitol on Wednesday. Officers from multiple departments quickly removed the protesters from the building, including one woman who was escorted from the House of Representatives gallery, located above where Lamont was speaking.

A group of people marched and chanted outside the state Capitol, holding a banner that read “Connecticut Stop Arming Israel.” Connecticut is home to multiple gun manufacturers.

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