The early stages of Lamont’s run for Governor have been marked by an emphasis on job creation, given what he calls the state’s “dead last” ranking in creating new jobs. He says that for small businesses, the cost of health care is one of the biggest problems. So, he supports creating a health care pooling system, that he says would bring down costs for municipal governments.
“I got 169 towns, and they’re all paying retail. They’re all paying retail, because they don’t get together, there’s no group purchasing,” Lamont told me.
“If I as a governor could create a pool, and they’d be able to buy into that pool and we get some group purchasing, we could dramatically bring down the cost of their health insurance, and still provide a top-quality program for state employees.”
Lamont criticized state officials for not “hustling” to bring in transportation funds from the federal government, but also said the state goes after federal money for projects – like the New Britain to Hartford busway – without an integrated strategy. He wants to put that project on “pause.”
“One of the reasons we’ve been losing is we’ve sorta been throwing ideas down there (to Washington) hoping somebody wants to fund them,” Lamont said. ”I worry that end of this stimulus, we’re going to shake our head and say ‘where did the money go?’ Did we make good long-term investments, or did we just throw it at shovel-ready projects?”
“I want us to focus our transportation infrastructure around a strategic plan,” Lamont told me. And that means rail in the state’s most populated corridors. ”Where we think the economic future of the state is going to be, and make sure that workers and jobs are better co-located. I-95, all the way up the knowledge corridor there from Hartford down to New Haven. Those should be real priorities.” He also said Connecticut wasn’t aggressive enough in going after “Race to the Top” money for education reform.
“Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, they all got their application in on time. They didn’t leave any questions blank. They won, and their young people are going to be better for it. And, Connecticut lost.”
Lamont praised education reform efforts in New Haven as a model for the rest of the state. In talking about how he would solve budget problems, and get the state’s various constituencies - labor and business, legislators and executive branch workers – on the same page, he reiterated his campaign call:
“I’m ready to go up to Hartford and bang some heads.”
When asked whose heads, exactly, would be banged…Lamont demurred. ”Look, I’m not a ‘head banger,’ I’m a respectful guy.”