AP NEWS

In Danbury, Connecticut governor touts ‘debt diet’ and tolls

March 22, 2019

Gov. Ned Lamont said on his first trip this week to sell Connecticut bonds, those investors “saluted” his plan to put Connecticut on a “debt diet” as he has termed it to create longer-term savings for the state.

Lamont spoke Friday morning at the Ethan Allen Hotel in Danbury to more than 400 members and guests of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce, with the governor speaking out about his proposed biennial budget for the state of Connecticut. Hot-button issues include the introduction of tolls; a $15 minimum wage; and exposing a range of products and services to Connecticut’s 6.35 percent sales tax that had previously been exempt.

Lamont said he was in Chicago this week to field questions from bond investors on his plan to turn around Connecticut’s economy and eliminated what have become chronic deficits.

“I want our fixed costs to be a smaller ... piece of our budget,” Lamont said Friday. “We are trying to show people we take their tax dollars very, very seriously.”

Lamont promised “a new relationship with the business community” that he suggested had been lacking during the tenure of his predecessor Dannel P. Malloy, with Lamont touting the recruitment of former Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi to help curry that relationship.

In prepared remarks and in response to an audience query, Lamont said he understands the risks to the Danbury-area economy of tolls, given its location on Interstate 84 and the Danbury Fair mall’s reliance on shoppers who live across the New York border. He posited that 40 percent of toll revenue would be produced by residents and businesses in other states, with the state contemplating gantries that would levy tolls as vehicles passed beneath.

“I’ve got to do the best job I can to convince you that this is the best investment to get our state growing again,” Lamont said.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman