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Business

by Fairfield County Business Journal
by FCBJ

Gov. Ned Lamont: Compromise on tolls, stalemate on casinos

Gov. Ned Lamont speaking before the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Phil Hall

Gov. Ned Lamont predicted a legislative compromise on the question of bringing electronic tolling to Connecticut’s highways, but he acknowledged no compromise was in sight on expanding the state’s gaming industry to nontribal entities.

Speaking this morning before the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, Lamont observed that “investment in transportation is the elephant in the room. I admit that’s incredibly controversial.” He also said that some members of the Democratic majority in the legislature have privately asked him to back down on his efforts to re-establish tolls in Connecticut.

“The folks in the caucus say, “I know it’s the right thing to do, but do I have to do it now? Can’t I study it a little bit more? Can you get me one more election under my belt?’” he said, noting his response to their requests was “No, we’re here to do a job.”

Lamont criticized the Republican plan dubbed Prioritize Progress, which he categorized as an effort to “borrow $700 million a year on the backs of Connecticut taxpayers with interest.” Yet in noting his lack of enthusiasm for that plan, he pointed out that “a lot of people aren’t very sympathetic to my point of view, either.” Ultimately, he said, the different sides of the issue will reach a compromise agreement.

“We’ll make a deal where no one will be happy, but will move the ball forward and we’ll  show that we’re going to get this state moving again,” he said.

On another hot button issue, the governor looked at the impasse between MGM Resorts International and the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes regarding the state’s gaming industry, glumly stating that “I haven’t been able to solve that nut yet.” Lamont insisted that a failure to reach an equitable solution would negatively impact Connecticut.

“Resorts and gaming and internet gambling and sports betting are out there,” he said. “It’s going to be a piece of our country’s future and I don’t want to see Connecticut left behind. I’m still trying to sort out an agreement between MGM, which wants to come in and put in $750 million into Bridgeport and not asking for a dime from the state, and the tribes who say, ‘You can’t do that – we have the exclusive compact.’ I thought we moved that negotiation to the five yard line, with that final five yards to come.”