CT's Future, Past, and why Malloy is a Great Governor

A looming budget crisis. 

Atena's gone. GE is gone. 

And the Whalers left a long time ago. 

It's incredibly easy to be pessimistic about the future of CT. But what's going CT's way?

What happened here?
What's so Great about CT?
I know the economic forecasts have been grim-but did you know CT has the 5th highest per capita GDP in the United States (GDP measures the total value of all goods and services produced in a state)? Connecticut has a long history of being economically productive, despite what headlines say. We have a geographically diverse state, with easy access to NY and Boston (a blessing and a curse). CT has an educated and talented workforce, high levels of civic engagement, and a well developed sense of culture and place. In general, we have a history of tolerance (obviously tons of exceptions) and a willingness to expand a social safety net to everyone. The landscape of the state is beautiful and diverse, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, and camping. It's in the New England region-an educated, connected place that attracts people from all over the world. 

Image result for connecticut gdp per capita
CT: high economic output, very high taxes, very high income

Back to what's wrong . . . 

CT is indeed facing a major fiscal crisis, basically because the legislature decided not to fund the state pension fund every year. This future payment scheme was shortsighted, irresponsible, and unforgivable. The legislature and the governors continuously said "we'll pay for it later" (for more about that see here). Now Governor Malloy is trying to coax the state unions out of some benefits to save the state from the fiscal cliff. Kudos to Malloy for dealing with the unions and squaring with the states residents about the fiscal challenges state government faces. Malloy is unpopular, not only because he is blamed for a fiscal crisis that was brewing over 50 years ago, but because he faces hard truths, very publicly. Not many may know, but Malloy has actually reduced the number of CT government agencies from 81 to 57. 

Despite the current fiscal crisis, electing to not invest public money in infrastructure and other important state programs could make a bad situation worse. Economic growth needs to happen-progress must be propelled forward with a helping hand from the state. Malloy has rightly divided to focus on improving CT's cities and it's transportation infrastructure, something I think the state will thank him later for. 

Regarding Cities:

Connecticut has to invest in it's cities, as the current suburban model just won't work anymore. Deindustrialization transformed Connecticut's cities into rust belt blights, as the middle class moved to the monied burbs and commuted to work on overwhelmed roadways. There was no healthy development of urban cores, and transportation was car, not rail or bus centered. 
New Haven: model small city?
Cities and urban areas all around the U.S are thriving as folks are moving away from the suburbs in favor of walk-able neighborhoods with access to cultural amenities. CT was SLOW in recognizing this trend. New Haven, with its recent construction boom and emerging bio-tech industry, serves as both the front runner in the race for quality urban communities in CT.  Continued investment in cities will be worth it in the long run. New Haven can serve as model to the rest of the state-as it has a walkable core, restored historic neighborhoods, transpiration access to NYC and beyond, and cultural opportunities. Going forward, it will also be important to balance development in such a way that does not dislocate the working poor and traditionally oppressed communities, but rather looks forward to development, equality of opportunity, and investment.

Regarding Infrastructure:

Malloy has invested smartly in connecting New Britain to Hartford with the CT fastrak "busway". Soon, the New Haven/Hartford/Springfield commuter rail will be up and running. This is progress-this is "Transit Oriented Development", a highly effective mode of economic development that has data to back it up. 

Here is a map detailing CT's "busway" and it's routes. 

It would be wise to also consider a rail line for the future that connects NYC and Boston directly. This would not only greatly benefit CT, but would strengthen regional bonds, instead of isolating CT in the shadow of two world class cities that attract talent and new residents. 

More positive transit news: The NHHS Commuter rail traverses the I-91 corridor, and should be debuting soon. Some splendid new train stations have already been constructed, dotting central Connecticut downtown's with some fine new architecture. This commuter rail should ease congestion on I-91 and encourage economic development:
CT's NHHS Commuter Rail, a real game changer
Other Ideas:
CT should also have a universal healthcare system. It would save costs in the long run and make our state a more attractive place to live and a national model. We have already shown that the state can manage a healthcare system quite well. In fact, Access Health CT has low spending per person and high enrollment numbers, and is one of the best state run healthcare exchanges in the nation.

CT should legalize soft drugs like marijuana. It would not only save money but would raise funds as well through new taxes.

CT needs some tollbooths.

Why did CT ever get rid of these?

CT should continue to address the economic and educational disparities between the monied suburbs and urban communities. Malloy is doing this. 

Continue to consolidate CT governmental departments. Malloy has reduced the number to 57 (from 81).

CT has reformed it's pension funding. The problem was and is what was done years ago. We have to bargain with the unions for help with existing obligations. As for the future, we're now funding as we go.

We should reorganize our tax code- and create more sophisticated income brackets. Sufficient money should be raised in order to maintain roads, infrastructure, public school systems, state gov't, and state parks.

Malloy has started CT on the track of prison reform and sick leave. All positive developments. 

Let's get the Whalers back.

This is not a debate: bring the Whalers back
Raise the minimum wage to give consumers more spending money and help take working families off the welfare rolls. Right now, state government is subsidizing many business easy profits by virtue of paying their employees so little (looking at you, Wal Mart). 

Pat ourselves on the back for setting up public financing of campaigns and keeping big money and donors out of it. The Democrats need be careful here, as they skirted the rules with Kennedy. To put it another way, Kennedy violated the spirit of the law in a big way.

CT: of course we got a Kennedy

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