Commentary on transportation in Connecticut and the Northeast by JIM CAMERON, for 19 years a member of the CT Rail Commuter Council.
Jim is also the founder of a new advocacy effort: www.CommuterActionGroup.org
Disclaimer: his comments are only his own. All contents of this blog are (c) Cameron Communications Inc
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May 08, 2016
Legislative Lockbox Logjam
hope you’ve been following CT-N to watch our
dysfunctional legislature in recent weeks as they struggle to fill a $900
million budget gap. Not only could they not
get a new budget together before adjourning (only to be summoned back mid-May
for a special session), but the legislative logjam left several important
measures in limbo. Among them, the long
debated “lock box” for special transportation
As I wrote weeks ago, none of Governor Malloy’s plans to
spend $100 billion to rebuild and expand our transportation systems over the
next 30 years can go anywhere without an agreement to safeguard those funds
from mis-appropriation by putting them in an untouchable “lock box”.
the legislature couldn’t pass such a bill or even put it on the ballot as a
potential constitutional amendment referendum, that puts the entire Malloy plan
on hold. Without a lockbox nobody trusts
Hartford with money raised by tolling or taxes, nor should they.
lockbox idea is not new. In fact, it was
Republicans who suggested it years ago.
But when Malloy appropriated the idea as his own, GOP lawmakers saw the
Governor’s version as more sieve than safe, and they held up a vote.
if lawmakers can’t agree on an annual budget, let alone a way to keep transportation
funding secure, how can we trust them with $100
billion in new money?
Dept of Transportation’s track-record on private-public partnerships for
Original plans for Fairfield Metro that never happened.
development also gives one pause. For example, consider the Fairfield Metro
train station where a private developer went belly-up, leaving CDOT to finish
the job, sort of: the beautiful new
station they built still has no waiting room.
consider the ongoing saga of the Stamford rail station garage. It’s been almost three years since CDOT
tapped a private developer to demolish the old garage, replace it with a
high-rise office / condo / hotel and build new commuter parking lots within a
quarter mile from the station. In three
years, nothing has been done because there is still no
Developer John McClutchy Jr
that project is wrapped in such secrecy that nobody understands the delay. Or why the CDOT is even still negotiating
with this laggard “developer
of choice”. It couldn’t be because the developer contributed
$165,000 to the Malloy campaign that he’s being given so much time, could
it? Nah, that would never happen.
here we are, fellow Nutmeggers.Lawmakers deadlocked.A $900
million budget deficit to fill this year and another $2 billion hole in years
ahead.State workers are being
laid-off.State funding to towns for
education is being cut (meaning local taxes rise).Billionaires are bailing (a third of our
taxes are paid by the top 1%).And no
prospects for a lock-box let alone more funding for transportation.Yup, just the same old stuff as ever.
wonder they call us “the land of steady habits”.