For decades Bridgeport has trailed Hartford and New Haven in state money invested for a variety of project improvements. Some of it is due to the state’s screwy funding formula that shortchanges the state’s largest city. Another piece historically is the city’s lack of a focused agenda from its legislative delegation in Hartford working in conjunction with regional leaders, something Paul Timpanelli, president of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, recently addressed in an eblast to members of the business organization.
Our region often lags behind other parts of the state in things such as infrastructure investment, which hinders economic growth, because more often than not, we have not had a strong, unified, impactful legislative delegation or regional Chief Elected Officials Caucus. That needs to be corrected; and we believe that, although more needs to be done, the BRBC Legislative Caucus is making progress.
Bridgeport has eight members in its legislative delegation, all Democrats, State House members Auden Grogins, Jack Hennessy, Charlie Stallworth, Andres Ayala, Don Clemons and Ezequiel Santiago as well as State Senators Anthony Musto and Ed Gomes. Ayala defeated Gomes in an August Democratic primary while Ayala’s cousin Christina Ayala won a primary to become the Democratic candidate in November’s general election to replace him. How the delegation works together is paramount in extra dollars flowing into the city.
The full text of Timpanelli’s eblast to BRBC members highlighting a regional meeting of legislative and business leaders to establish an economic agenda:
This morning, the Business Council hosted our quarterly “Regional CEO / Legislative Caucus” meeting here in our Conference Room. Currently co-chaired by State Representative Andres Ayala of Bridgeport and Mayor John Harkins of Stratford, the Caucus is the Business Council’s attempt to bring together public sector decision makers in our region in a collaborative way on a regular basis. As their actions and decisions over time have a significant impact on the state of business in our region and state.
In addition to our desire to be the convener of this caucus to enable the business community to have a forum through which its legislative issues might be aired, it is also our hope that this mechanism will serve to unify our region around a legislative agenda that will strengthen our ability to get decisions made by local and state government to improve our economic state. This morning’s meeting was no exception in demonstrating the need for such a caucus. One of the issues that was aired, for example, is the lack of adequate state investment to rebuild and strengthen the state’s transportation infrastructure, particularly in Fairfield County. The absence of solid, well-positioned transportation investments to improve rail, highway, and alternative transportation modes, hinders our ability to grow our regional economy. If people can’t get to work efficiently, our ability to grow jobs is hindered. Two relatively recent state decisions to improve transportation modes have been made that will result in over a billion dollars of infrastructure investment over time. One will create a bus-way in the central part of the state and the other will improve rail service from New Haven to Hartford.
The question was raised this morning as to why these investments took priority over needed Fairfield County-based transportation improvements. We all recognize that Fairfield County is the primary driver of the state’s economy. I believe the answer lies in the reason why this “caucus” is so important. Our region often lags behind other parts of the state in things such as infrastructure investment, which hinders economic growth, because more often than not, we have not had a strong, unified, impactful legislative delegation or regional Chief Elected Officials Caucus. That needs to be corrected; and we believe that, although more needs to be done, the BRBC Legislative Caucus is making progress.
This morning we once again had 40 people in the room including seven legislators, and seven Chief Elected Officials–all of whom were talking in collaborative language about the need to unify around a regional agenda that will work to strengthen our economy. Our role is to help move the Caucus in that direction.
One of the ways in which we further intend to impact the decisions being made by elected officials will be unveiled soon for our members. By the end of the year, the Business Council website, www.brbc.org will have a means through which our members can readily and conveniently correspond with public officials about specific legislation or general matters of concern. This will further help us to assure that public decisions recognize a pro-jobs growth agenda.