Well, you did it. Congratulations on your election. And my condolences. The easy part of politics — getting elected — is over. Now comes the hard part: being governor.
I hope you and your transition team are already working on that budget that’s due in three months. There’s a lot of red ink ($4 billion) that needs to be mopped up. And don’t forget those $80 billion in unfunded pensions. But I’m sure you’ve got the solutions, right? That’s what you promised voters, anyhow.
So have at it.
But as you are cutting and slashing, may I make a few suggestions on the transportation front? Your campaign assured us you’d fix our roads and rails, so I’m sure you have your ideas. But let’s see if these can help.
Keep your commissioner: Jim Redeker has been commissioner of the state Department of Transportation since 2011 and nobody knows better what’s working and what isn’t. He’s clearly the smartest guy in the room and you need his experience and talents. Let’s not lose him to another state.
Fix the trains first: You can’t keep high wage earners (and taxpayers) living in Connecticut if Metro-North continues its downward slide. Getting trains back up to speed and on time is crucial to the state’s economy.
Improve bus service: I hope you realize the CTFastrak bus rapid-transit system is hugely important and not the “waste of money” your opponent claimed. Not everyone in this state owns a car. For the 15 million riders who have used the system since it launched, those buses mean being able to get to their jobs. That is what we want, right — people working?
Ride mass transit: You campaigned at train and bus stations, now why not get on board? Set an example by taking the train from Greenwich to Hartford and riding the bus with your constituents. See the conditions first hand.
Get going with tolls: We both know they’re inevitable, despite your opponents’ “tolls are a tax” lie during the campaign. Let’s stop losing revenue to out-of-staters and truckers and make them pay for driving on our roads. Start with tolling trucks, though I doubt that’s legal.
Honor the lockbox: Voters have spoken loudly. The Special Transportation Fund is now padlocked. Don’t you dare think about picking that lock or letting the Legislature touch those funds for anything but transportation.
Please be honest: You and your opponents glossed over the tough issues in the campaign, making vague, general comments about improving our lives. You got the job, so now don’t give us any BS. Tell us about the hard choices to come. Embrace the FOI act. Be open and transparent— and honest. We’re adults. We can take it.
Don’t abuse the majority: Once again, the Democrats are in full control in Hartford. That’s a lot of power in a few hands and your party’s record on “reaching across the aisle” isn’t great. Our problems can only be solved with bi-partisan cooperation, so please set the best example.
That’s enough for now. Get some rest, maybe even a vacation, and we’ll talk again in the coming months.
Jim Cameron, the “train guy”
Cameron on Tolls and State Transportation Policy
- For Transportation Issues, How CT’s Candidates for Governor Stack up: Cameron on Transportation (Oct. 26)
- 10 Years After Panel’s Report on ConnDOT — Improvements, Missed Opportunities: Cameron on Transportation (Sept. 17)
- Restricting Trucks on I-95 or Raising Their Tolls Further Won’t Help Traffic: Cameron on Transportation (Aug. 19)
- Instead of Working on the Transportation Mess, CT Politicians Demagogue About It: Cameron on Transportation (Aug. 13)
- Forestalling Tolls and Tax Increases Won’t Keep Bridges from Rotting: Cameron on Transportation (May 27)
- Jim Cameron Speaks to Greenwich Audience About CT’s Transportation Funding Crisis (March 31)
- State Legislators Hold Ultimate Responsibility for Funding, Improving Roads and Rails: Cameron on Transportation (March 21)
- No Free Ride: Connecticut Needs Tolls and Gas Taxes: Cameron on Transportation (Feb. 25)
- Don’t Blame Gov for Transport Project Delays, Blame the Legislature: Cameron on Transportation (Feb. 7)
- Predictions for Roads, Rails and Air Transport in 2018: Cameron on Transportation (Jan. 21)
- Think Gridlock on the Roads Is Awful? Wait’ll You Consider Political Gridlock: Cameron on Transportation (Dec. 11, 2017)
- Big Transportation Improvements? CT Needs To Play Budget Catchup First: Cameron on Transportation (Nov. 17)
Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident for more than 25 years. He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group, sits on the Merritt Parkway Conservancy board and also serves on the Darien RTM and as program director for Darien TV79. The opinions expressed in this column, republished with permission of Hearst CT Media, are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com.