Approaching the one-year mark of his first term, Governor Ned Lamont’s flaccid negotiating skills can’t even get Democrats on board with the bigger-ticket proposals.
Two-time mayoral candidate Jeff Kohut writes in a commentary “as long as the state’s resources are marshaled mainly for the sake of supporting the Stamford Area (Gold Coast) economy and lifestyle, the more inevitable the economic death of the state as a whole.”
Editor Hugh Bailey and the Connecticut Post have definitely spotted something amiss with the latest transportation infrastructure plan floated publicly by the Lamont Administration.
The Governor’s Office has shrewdly played its transportation plan handoff of the predictable “How is this going to be paid for?!” (inevitable) controversy. This has provided “cover” for “the plan” and allowed its actual contents and implementation ramifications to become quite secondary in consideration by legislators, the media, and the public. Indeed because of the Governor’s displayed (albeit “affected”) affinity for the use of the toll bogeyman as a source of money to pay for “the plan,” most of the media have devoted most of their coverage of the Governor, and “the plan” to the aforementioned bogeyman, thus allowing the actual plan contents to remain a hazy, secondary consideration.
But, to their credit, Hugh Bailey and the Editorial Board of the Post have shown quite a bit more sophistication in their consideration of “the plan” than most other journalistic entities. They actually took a hard look at the “the plan” and what its implementation would mean for the state over the short- and long-term.
Editor Bailey refers to his editorial of 11/17/19, regarding this latest Lamont transportation “plan,” CT2030, as “A retrograde plan for the state’s future.” But, as just a cursory examination of this latest, Lamont transportation “plan” will show, it has few of the hallmarks of a real plan.
And, while the Bailey editorial rightly and correctly indicts the Lamont transportation “plan” for being “retrograde”–irrespective of its unpopular inclusion of a toll-financing component–there are several glaring omissions in the Bailey/Post editorial that are of perhaps as much, if not more, consequence to the future of Connecticut than its “backwards” approach to meeting state transportation needs.
Indeed, the editorial fails to address the fact that the plan isn’t a plan at all–just a prescription for temporary relief of the (main) symptom of extreme traffic congestion causing a costly dilation of commute times (to the overdeveloped Stamford Area) in Connecticut’s southwest quadrant.
There is no mention of the geography and politics at the root of this mainly southwest Connecticut traffic jam, nor of its involvement in the current and predictable future economic regression of the state per the longstanding, state/federal economic development policies that support the Stamford Area economic primacy and politically engineered dominance of the Connecticut economy/Connecticut economic life–irrespective of the role of the automobile in that dominance.
Glaringly, there is no mention of the fact that the aforementioned state development policy has literally choked off and squeezed out development in most of the rest of the state, and is responsible for Connecticut’s last-in-the-nation, overall economic growth (actually, continuing recession, if analyzed in isolation of Stamford Area growth).
The fact of the matter is that as long as the state’s resources are marshaled mainly for the sake of supporting the Stamford Area (Gold Coast) economy and lifestyle, the more inevitable the economic death of the state as a whole. As more commuting labor, of all descriptions/pay scales, is forced to live outside of the (exclusively zoned, very expensive) Stamford Area, even as the tax bases/grand lists of the labor hosting communities continue to shrink–in a context of growing populations and increased services/infrastructure expenses, increasing property taxes, underfunded school systems, and structural unemployment–poverty and socioeconomic decay will continue to increase throughout the rest of the state, especially in the major cities. This negative socioeconomic momentum will, in a paradoxical manner, further exacerbate the population decline of the state (the latter taking the form, mainly, as the flight of professional/skilled labor and capital) from all but the southwest wedge of the state, which will ultimately find itself within a no-longer-viable State of Connecticut, and without the labor pool and state resources required to sustain a growing, albeit isolated, economic monster.
Thus, while the Post points out the regressive folly of the Lamont non-plan for Connecticut’s transportation future, it doesn’t use the indicated zoom lens needed to see the untenable transportation plug that has been deliberately created and sustained, (and which “the plan” seeks to accommodate)–by greed-enabled, shortsighted, state economic development policy–in the extreme southwestern portion of Connecticut at a critical transportation juncture in the state’s (and region’s) economic lifeline.
Any government transportation plan should be only one, enabling part of a larger, comprehensive, long-term plan of economic development (really socioeconomic development), the latter being based on a vision of high notions for the people affected by the plan. The goals of the transportation plan should stem directly from the goals of the economic development plan and should serve mainly to enable the latter.
Truly; it would behoove the Lamont Administration do a proper evaluation of the socioeconomic condition of the whole of the State of Connecticut, paying particular attention to the negative trends, such that this dying state might benefit from some visionary thinking, planning, and action before we become part of greater Rhode Island, and pass the point of no return.
In the meantime, table that transportation non-plan, with its road widening and tolls, and nurture the creation of a vision and plan for our state, with a transportation sub-plan tailored to enable the actualization of a lofty vision for an economically mighty state of healthy cities and healthy rural and suburban areas–with no one area being ceded primacy at the expense of any other(s). It wasn’t so long ago that this description was the real Connecticut.