HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Ned Lamont’s first state Bond Commission meeting was “skinny” in terms of the amount of money Connecticut will borrow and a little less formal than the meetings headed by previous Democratic governor.
Lamont and the Bond Commission approved $115.9 million in borrowing Tuesday for a number of projects, including grants to municipalities and money for police body cameras. It also approved $159.7 million in special transportation bonds for paving 221 miles of highway and local bridge repairs.
Lamont, who has been in office 84 days, called lawmakers by their first name and seemed surprised everyone stood when he entered the room and then waited for him to sit before taking their own seats.
The press conference after the Bond Commission meeting was different too. There were no chairs provided to the media because Lamont’s staff thought it might prolong the back and forth, which his predecessor relished.
“We have a shorter agenda, but it also means we couldn’t afford chairs for you all,” Lamont joked as he took to the podium. “I’m happy to take a few questions.”
Rep. Chris Davis, R-East Windsor, who Lamont called “Chris” said “Gov. Lamont is definitely bringing a different style to the governorship than what we’ve experienced over the last eight years.”
He called it “refreshing.”
But it doesn’t mean Lamont is on the verge of brokering a compromise with Republicans over how to fund transportation improvements.
Lamont said he’s playing the “long game” when it comes to finding a funding stream for improving Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure, and is open to discussing Republicans plans for prioritizing bonding.
“We gotta make sure we have a funding stream for transportation long-term,” Lamont said.
He said voters approved the lockbox for transportation and anything to do with tolling is subject to federal authorization and has to go to transportation by law.
“If you let me consider public-private partnerships each and every one of those projects that toll revenue goes to that project first before it goes anywhere else,” Lamont said.
However, Democrats in the legislature may not be as keen on the proposal as Lamont.
They recently changed Lamont’s language in a public-private partnership bill related to economic development and not everyone is sold on the idea of electronic tolls, which come with congestion pricing.
Davis said it’s obvious that the governor doesn’t even have the votes in his own caucus to support some of his goals.
As far as compromise is concerned, Lamont shouldn’t expect votes from Republicans to try and raise taxes on people, Davis said.
“The people of Connecticut are taxed enough already. We all want to fix roads and bridges and help the rail stations, but we want to do it in a fiscally responsible manner that doesn’t call for more money from the people of Connecticut,” Davis said.
He said Republicans want to solve these issues within existing resources.
Gov. Ned Lamont post-Bond Commission. No chairs for the media
Posted by CTNewsJunkie.com on Tuesday, April 2, 2019