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Malloy leaves Lamont long list of parting recommendations

December 23, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Outgoing Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has left his successor with some final suggestions before he leaves office next month, including encouraging his fellow Democrat to seriously consider highway tolls to help generate much-needed state transportation revenue.

Malloy’s recommendations are included in a nearly 300-page report his office compiled of public policy highlights from the two-term governor’s time in office.

They come at the same time as 15 public policy committees formed by Gov.-elect Ned Lamont’s transition team have been crafting policy suggestions, including legalizing marijuana, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023 and instituting a paid family medical leave program.

Listed under the heading “More Work to Do,” some of Malloy’s ideas gel with Lamont’s campaign platform, such as building on the Malloy administration’s efforts to support advanced manufacturing jobs. However, there’s some contrast. For example, Lamont has said he only supports tolling big rigs for now.

Here are highlights of Malloy’s proposals to Connecticut’s 89th governor, who takes office on Jan. 9:

TOLLS

Malloy’s report encourages the new administration to move ahead with his study of possible tolling on Interstates 95, 91, 84, the Wilbur Cross Parkway, the Merritt Parkway and possibly other limited access highways. The State Bond Commission in July approved up to $10 million for the review, but Lamont called it a waste of money during the election.

The report also encourages Lamont to implement a “long-term user-based funding stream” for transportation, calling tolling a “proven revenue option used by every other state on the eastern seaboard and increasingly across the nation.”

It suggests out-of-state motorists would ultimately generate 30-to-40 percent of tolling revenue, money needed to shore up Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund. The main spending account for transportation infrastructure projects is projected to be in deficit by fiscal year 2023.

Lamont’s transportation public policy committee last week also recommended tolling both trucks and cars. Additionally, it suggested creating a new tolling authority within the first six months of Lamont’s administration.

In response, the incoming governor said a tolling authority sounded like unneeded bureaucracy at this point. And on implementing more widespread tolls, Lamont said he hasn’t changed his position since the campaign.

“That’s their recommendation,” he said, referring to the committee. “The legislature will have some thoughts on this but my thought is what I told people for six months. Let’s start with tractor-trailer trucks.”

ECONOMY

Malloy’s report recommends Lamont continue some of the current administration’s economic development efforts, arguing Connecticut “needs to continue with strategically crafted and targeted incentive programs.”

In particular, the report names programs aimed at helping manufacturers, as well as the Small Business Express initiative, which provides grants and loans to certain small businesses in hopes of spurring new jobs. Lamont was skeptical of Malloy’s major corporate incentive program, known as the “First Five,” during the campaign, accusing politicians of picking and choosing winners and losers.

Lamont, a former cable TV entrepreneur, has not ruled out incentives entirely. However, during the campaign he said that wouldn’t “lead with the bribe,” calling instead for eliminating certain business taxes, boosting funding for education and job training and creating a more welcoming atmosphere for businesses.

Last week, Lamont’s economic policy committee suggested Connecticut create a new cabinet-level “secretary of commerce” position, someone who would work to attract companies and coordinate state agencies on economic efforts. The post would be in addition to the Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner.

Lamont said he agreed the state needs “an overarching group that takes the lead in workforce development, business recruitment, business retention and works across all our different agencies.”

WORKER ATTRITION, EDUCATION AND MORE

Malloy’s report urges Lamont to plan for “extraordinary attribution” in state government, likely to occur as 2022 approaches. That’s when as many as half of state employees may elect to retire because of scheduled cost-of-living adjustments.

“This will create opportunities for attrition savings, but will also endanger service levels if not addressed,” the report reads.

Malloy’s report also urges Lamont to continue adequate funding of the University of Connecticut and other state colleges and universities to avoid sharp tuition increases; support efforts allowing high school students to obtain both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time; and continuing investments in renewable energy, including wind and solar, as well as many other recommendations.

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