Gov. Ned Lamont’s reconsideration of the $1.2 billion Walk Bridge replacement is welcome on several fronts. First, such a huge sum warrants review when facing a $2.5 billion state budget deficit with a reported 200 highway bridges/structures needing major attention amidst proposals for highway tolls required for needed maintenance. Second, our state has only two industrial harbors — New Haven and Bridgeport. Neither has a lift rail bridge even though they have very substantial and lengthy upwater industrial waterfronts extending from their fixed rail bridges.
President Donald Trump’s recent public ridicule of the reports before the Congress by our nation’s three major intelligence agencies is unparalleled in our nation’s modern history… and utterly anguished our intelligence community writ large. Our intelligence leaders outlined that we face an unprecedented potential adversary — the developing China-Russia axis. With a combined population of five to six times that of America, it has formidable industrial and military capabilities.
The recent gubernatorial campaign focused attention on our state’s embarrassingly stagnant economy and labor market over the past decade while the nation as a whole is enjoying major prosperity. Causal agents include some of the nation’s highest income and property taxes, repeated billion-dollar state budget deficits, recent state income and business tax hikes, among the nation’s highest salaries/benefits for its public unions, taxes on hospitals, inadequate transportation funding, inadequate public school funding and insufficient delivery of social services to the disadvantaged.
Each of the major party gubernatorial candidates have discussed the usual litany of expected issues facing Connecticut: budget deficits, high taxes, unfunded pension liabilities, high salaries/benefits of state and municipal workers, depressed cities, exodus, lack of jobs, disadvantaged educational funding, lack of school funding in the inner cities, health care, needed reforms in provision of social services to our most needy residents and so on. But in casting a broad net of promised reforms/action steps, none of the candidates have zeroed in the “mission critical” actions to help restore our state’s economy.
Just about everyone accepts that after an unusually vigorous national economic expansion and housing boom, Connecticut remains in the doldrums. It is a national poster child for egregious fiscal and economic mismanagement on a scale rarely seen in post-war America. Jobs are below pre-2008 Recession levels. A major exodus of firms, jobs and residents is underway. By some estimates 20 to 25,000 residents are leaving annually. Most ominous is the unprecedented post-war decline of property values in the fabled Gold Coast where a few hundred thousand wealthy residents provide a third of the state’s revenues serving its 3.5 million inhabitants. People are voting with their boots.
Connecticut’s economy has been stagnant now for two decades. Employment remains at 2000 levels and a major exodus of jobs, firms and residents is underway. How can this have occurred for the nation’s wealthiest state sandwiched between the two modern high-tech industrial powerhouses of Boston and New York City?
Gov. Dannel Malloy is leaving office as our state’s most unpopular governor in decades having secured Connecticut’s reputation as the most mismanaged state in the nation. For a well regarded mayor and former public prosecutor from our only prosperous city, it is a surprising outcome. What are the lessons here?
As the gubernatorial campaign heats up with dozens of candidates, we’re hearing plans and promises to restore Connecticut to its former glory. Yet none of the candidates so far give any evidence of careful study of our distress — nor any evidence of being familiar with the well developed field of municipal and state economics and fiscal policies. So a new governor is likely to be more of the same. Regaining our past glories will be a matter of decades.