Lamont gives chambers insight into his plans

Gov. Ned Lamont came to Bristol to speak with the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

Gov. Ned Lamont discussed his plans for the state during the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce Connecticut Outlook lunch.

At the May 13 event at Bristol’s DoubleTree by Hilton, Cindy Bombard, president of the chambers, said she and the members of the chambers were all interested in what is going to transpire in the future, and that they were curious about Lamont’s outlook for Connecticut.

“Being in the state of Connecticut, we’re all concerned about the taxes that we are in,” said Bombard. Personally, she said, she wanted to know about where spending would be cut.

“You have to run the state like you do your household sometimes. You have to learn how to cut back in order to move forward,” said Bombard. “We understand that there are holes, like, if your roof is leaking and it’s raining… you have to fix things but you also can’t add cost or taxes to the already overburdened taxes in the state of Connecticut.”

Lamont said he began his service as governor by meeting with the business community in the hopes of reestablishing a relationship between business leaders and state government. He is using the feedback to guide him at the capital.

Some of the feedback he received was to get the state’s fiscal house in order and improving the transportation system.

Lamont said, “The economy is strong, but our fiscal house is a mess, and we’ve got a lot of work to do.” One way of addressing that, he said, will be by reducing state employee pension costs by restructuring those agreements. But, he said, there would still be much work to do because fixed costs in Connecticut “are going up and revenues are going down, and we are on a crash course.”

“Working with comptroller [Kevin] Lembo and working with the state employees we’re going to be able to, I can confidently say, reduce the cost of our employee healthcare by well over $100 million in the second half of this biennium, and that will be going continuing going forward,” said Lamont.

Another fiscal issue was one that Lamont described as controversial – Connecticut’s bonding habits.

“We’ve been borrowing too much, we’re addicted to debt, and over the last eight to nine years our appetite for bonding has gone up by about $600 million a year. It was a 60 percent increase in terms of what we had had traditionally,” said Lamont. “I’m trying to be really tough I’ve said we’ve been on a bond binge and it’s time to go on a debt diet.”

But, the state is facing a $3.5 billion deficit in the upcoming budget, and Lamont said that he and his team are “really working to restructure government in a serious way.”

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.