The state legislature scaled back it’s $4.6 billion bonding package vetoed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell more than five weeks ago. The schedule of capital projects approved by the legislature Tuesday authorizes $2.8 billion in general obligation bonds, about $850.5 million in special obligation and transportation bonds, and about $415 million in borrowing for Clean Water Act projects.
“I do believe it’s a victory for fiscal responsibility,” Rell said moments before the House voted to approve the package this afternoon.
The total bond package was scaled back by about $200 million, including about $25 million in earmarks, better known as pork.
During a press conference in her office, Rell said while the agreement “took longer than we had hoped,” she’s satisfied with the overall package. Rell did warn that even though she would agree to authorize the projects by signing the bill, not all of the projects will make it onto the bond commission’s agenda for final approval. “To make a wish list and expect it to pass is irresponsible,” Rell said.
She said when she vetoed the first bond package it was not a matter of testing the legislature’s will to override the veto, rather it was a reading of the public. She said when it’s explained in simple terms the public understands it’s not good policy to keep charging things on the state credit card.
She said she would be holding a bond commission meeting within the next week to approve some of the school construction funding. She said two or three municipalities were forced to borrow money to pay contractors, while they waited for the state to approve the bonding package. There’s about $2 million in the bond package to re-pay towns.
In addition to school construction, the bond package included money for improvements to the Connecticut State University system. The cost of CSU 2020 was reduced by $126 million from $1.076 billion to $950 million over 10 years. The bond package also cancelled $190 million in previously authorized CSU projects that are now included in the $950 million project.
In order to avoid the problems the state experienced with Uconn 2000, the bonding bill included language that requires all the contracting to go through the Department of Public Works and requires the state to hire an independent auditor every five years. In order to modify any of the improvements itemized in the bill CSU would be required to come back to the legislature for approval.
The bill also scraps the $1 surcharge for commuters who use the New Haven Rail Line. Instead the ticket price will increase about 1 percent each year starting in 2010.Click here for a copy of the fiscal note.
For more specifics in the bill or to find out if your town’s project made it through the authorization process click here for the bill analysis.