HARTFORD -- The Connecticut business community has come out in tepid support of Governor Lamont’s latest transportation plan dubbed CT2030. Gov. Lamont is forming a coalition of labor and business leaders to help sell his message of ‘get this state moving again.’ That’s a message that not many people disagree with. But the sticking point is how do you pay for it?
Less than a week removed from unwrapping his CT2030 transportation plan, Gov. Lamont back at the microphone Tuesday. Now, with five big Connecticut corporations backing his plan — in principle. They are Aetna, Travelers, The Hartford, Stanley Black & Decker and Boehringer Ingelheim. “We have a number of business leaders who have come forward loud and clear,” said Gov. Lamont. “Transportation remains a critical issue to unlock Connecticut’s economic future,” said Wolfgang Baiker, the CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim. “We are encouraged by Governor Lamont’s detailed, comprehensive and thoughtful proposal,” said The Hartford’s Chairman and CEO Christopher Swift.
But none of them mentioned tolls. “The big question is how do you pay for it?” asked House Deputy Republican Leader, Rep. Vincent Candelora. The Governors 10 year $21-billion dollar plan relies on federal grants, money from the Special Transportation Fund, low interest loans and tolls to pay back the loans.
But what about marijuana and sports betting? Some lawmakers say legalize it — and use that money instead. The Governor says the Trump Administration wouldn’t like it. “They want an independent reliable revenue stream and nobody knows what marijuana or sports betting does. That does not meet their requirements when it comes to paying for this,” said Lamont.
A Republican alternative, while not fully hatched, would shift existing revenue streams within the budget instead of creating new ones. “I think the resources are there. We have to re-prioritize,” said Candelora. The Governor balked at that idea. “So you are taking money from education you are taking money education you are taking money from municipal aid and moving that from the general fund to the Special Transportation Fund. That’s going to be the strategy?” said Lamont.
Despite carefully worded statements, no one from the business community joined the Governor at his news conference. “I hope they are investing in the state of Connecticut, hiring people and making a profit. That’s what they do,” said Lamont.
The Governor said he’s planning a transportation roadshow of sorts to get input from voters. “I think so. I think I should do some town meetings,” he said.
FOX61 contacted all five corporations. None of them made any executives available for an on camera interview. The Governor said he’s open to toll alternatives but says the numbers need to add up. He also said he’s open to tax breaks or additional toll discounts for low income people.