Friday, August 18, 2017

Trumbull’s Herbst Identifies Campaign Issues: Image, Infrastructure and Income

Photo by Tim Hall
Fairfield County BusinessJournal
By Phil Hall - August 11, 2017

In the event Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst should find himself as Connecticut’s next governor, he has already identified which person will be the recipient of his first telephone call in that new job: his Florida counterpart, Rick Scott.
“If I’m governor, my first call is going to be to Governor Scott and I will tell him to stay the hell out of my state,” said Herbst, citing the Florida Republican’s visit to Connecticut in June when he urged business leaders to “capitulate and come to Florida and make it easier on yourselves.” But Herbst added that Scott’s attempt to lure away Connecticut businesses would not have occurred if the state was viewed nationally as a pro-business environment. “We have an image problem, a confidence problem, a morale problem.”

In June, Herbst declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor. This is his second attempt at statewide office — he was the Republican candidate for treasurer in 2014 and lost to Democrat Denise Nappier by 0.9 percent of the vote. Herbst is not running for re-election this year as first selectman in Trumbull, a position he first won in 2009 when he was 29 years old.

In an interview with the Business Journal, Herbst said his gubernatorial campaign will highlight his work in Trumbull, with an emphasis on fiscal leadership. “I’ve balanced eight budgets and maintained an average tax increase of only 1.68 percent over eight years,” he said. “Our grand list showed consistent measured growth every year I’ve been the first selectman.”

He also emphasized his Trumbull strategy in positioning the town as a place to both work and live, and not just create a bedroom community or a corporate zone that empties out when offices close for the night.

“I just don’t want to attract businesses here — I want to attract people here,” he explained. “If a business is going to relocate here and people’s jobs are going to be here, I want them to give Trumbull a second look to live here, to move their family here, to make a long-term investment here. I look at what’s going on here in our town and I look at the real estate prices and taxes here in Fairfield County. I feel you get more house for your dollar and your tax dollar in Trumbull than you get in lower Fairfield County.”

For his new statewide campaign, Herbst is arguing that the state’s economy is suffering due to a failure to invest in infrastructure upgrades. He cited the headquarters exodus of General Electric to Boston and Aetna to New York as evidence of how poor infrastructure cost Connecticut longtime corporate residents.

“Massachusetts is not exactly affordable, nor is New York,” he continued. “But it says a lot why Connecticut is losing businesses to one state that was once called Taxachusetts and to another state that has multiple layers of taxation — not just local taxation, but county and state taxation. However, they are investing in infrastructure and we are not. There is no question the Merritt Parkway is in worse shape than it was eight years ago, and so is I-95. And Metro-North is a disaster.”

But Herbst is not advocating for bigger highways. “I want to get people off I-95 and the Merritt Parkway,” he added. “I am not necessarily in favor of widening lanes. After all, the more lanes you put on the highway, the more cars you put on the highway. I believe we should invest in high-speed rail.”

Herbst argued that infrastructure improvements could have been made if “the transportation fund had not been raided to artificially balance the budget.” He opposed the idea of reintroducing tolls, adding, “We should not have any conversation on tolls unless the state gets serious about an enforceable binding transportation lockbox. If you are going to put tolls in, you are going to have to eliminate the gas tax. Or if you keep the gas tax, you need to use the lockbox and make sure you are addressing what needs to be done in their roads.”

Read the conclusion of this article at FCBJ.

Paid for by Tim for Connecticut 2018, William Jenkins Treasurer, Approved by Timothy M. Herbst. Tim Herbst for Connecticut · United States

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