Let’s move the Capitol back to New Haven

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For those of you who blinked and missed it, you just gave Hartford a $550-million-dollar bailout courtesy of Connecticut’s elected leadership. They refused to let our state’s capital go bankrupt. Instead, our governor and legislators established Connecticut’s Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB) and imbued it with super powers to save key municipalities from self-destruction.

Therefore, since this is the recipe for success, there is only one thing that can be done. Let’s move the Capitol back to New Haven and have co-capital cities as Connecticut did between 1701 to 1874.

Yes, move it back. The State Capitol originally resided on our green and the legislature alternated between Hartford and New Haven to do its business. Where can we place the legislature in 2018 in order to get our $552 million and have our debt erased?

Alexion. Since the drug company is vacating floors in the brand spanking new building and they have yet to pay real estate taxes, what better place for our legislators to occupy? Imagine the views. Long Island, the vistas of East Rock and West Rock and areas as far away as Meriden. Perhaps, locating our legislators on these top floors will inspire their creativity, innovative spirit and vibrancy.

This is a real opportunity. The next governor  can have Alexion CEO’s suite and, for good measure the Constitutional Officers can occupy offices in the beautiful vacant Union Trust building on Church Street. Boom! Done!

Back in 1869, Trinity College outfoxed Yale by donating land and money that led to building and designating Hartford as our capital. Yale needs to redeem itself –and now it can! Yale can open up its underground tunnels to our legislators and others so they can safely get back and forth to the green and Yale, enjoy our cultural spaces, and make their way to our buses and shops, hospital and eateries. Yale could sweeten the deal even more and give the governor a mansion on Hillhouse Ave.

In bankruptcy, a municipality typically would have to first balance their budget and restructure their debt, but now we have this amazing MARB, and with a flourish of a pen, swoosh! Debts are gone.

Let’s use these new-found powers to wipe out West Haven’s debt — another applicant to MARB — but as a consequence it must be annexed to New Haven and become a borough. In fact, Connecticut could lead the 169 towns to regionalization via annexation and debt forgiveness and result in East Haven, North Haven and Hamden also becoming boroughs of New Haven. This will position us much better for the next Amazon application!

Think of it. Tweed becomes a real regional airport. The Haven development gets built, sleeping giant is added to New Haven’s park system and the property values of North Haven to the grand list. All the selectmen retain some powers and they continue to run as separate entities, but we become one New Haven where we can streamline government and services, stop sprawl with real planning, be debt free and drive the economic comeback for all of Connecticut!

There’s more! With co-capitals the state becomes a huge tourist destination as the only state in the union with twin capitols. Businesses will flock to New Haven to the ‘new’ New Haven with our new revolutionary brand.

Hey, I even hear a Bridgeport state representative wants in on the party. He wants his city to apply to the MARB so his’ city’s debt can be covered by the rest of the state, too. Hmmm, this brings new meaning to a BridgeHaven (Bridgeport/New Haven). Just imagine everything we could bring together: a new casino, more money for rail, investment in our two ports, improvements along the I-95 corridor, extra money saved from debt service to spend on our schools… Oh the possibilities!

Hey candidates for governor… we need two capitols now more than ever and an even more powerful MARB authority to get this done. No worries, wink, wink, about fully funding PILOT, paying into the teachers’ pension fund and/or those silly obligations to our state workers. Instead, reimagine Connecticut as it was meant to be, with two state capitals.

Jason W. Bartlett is a former legislator and member of the Democratic State Central Committee from District 10.


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