Joseph DeLong, CCM executive director CCM
CCM Executive Director Joseph DeLong
CCM Executive Director Joseph DeLong Keith M. Phaneuf /

Connecticut’s municipal, business and labor leaders will convene their second annual fall summit next month to develop strategies to bolster the state’s economic future.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the state chapter of the AFL-CIO and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association will host the summit on Nov. 14 at the Foxwoods Resorts Casino near the Ledyard-North Stonington line.

The 2015 Project BEST (Bringing Every Stakeholder Together) involved about 175 participants who developed more than 20 policy proposals involving education, taxes, economic development, transportation, regional cooperation and quality-of-life issues.

“As one can see from the breadth and range of ideas presented, the 2015 summit achieved its first goal, but our work must now continue,” said Joe DeLong, CCM’s executive director.

To develop priorities for the 2017 General Assembly session, which begins on Jan. 4, the upcoming summit will focus work groups in three areas:

  • Fiscal and regulatory matters.
  • Effective and efficient service delivery.
  • And workforce development.

Retiring state House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, will be a key facilitator for the committee on service delivery. Sharkey spearheaded the formation several years ago of the state’s Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE) Commission.

Kenya Rutland, principal of KJR Consulting, whose team oversaw last year’s summit, will again be the primary facilitator.

Kenya Rutland, a meeting facilitator, during a brainstorming session.
Kenya Rutland facilitates a brainstorming session at the last summit in November. CTMIRROR.ORG
Kenya Rutland facilitates a brainstorming session at the last summit in November. CTMIRROR.ORG

Some of the specific 2016 summit recommendations included:

  • Bring greater transparency to the process through which state budget policy changes are developed.
  • Establish a state advisory council on job growth.
  • Reform the state’s Education Cost Sharing grant formula to ensure greater equity among education aid to all municipal school districts.
  • Prioritize state transportation projects that relieve congestion in high-traffic areas.
  • Provide a clear process for consolidating and closing public schools in regions without adequate enrollment.
  • Enhance development of affordable housing and brownfields.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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