Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Malloy said government bureaucracy is hurting a vital piece of Connecticut’s economy and if he is elected he will change how Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks operates.
At a press conference Monday Malloy said Republican lawmakers were wrong when they proposed selling both Bradley and Brainard airports earlier this year.
If it was put under the auspices of an independent quasi-public authority, it could become a more sustainable asset and an incubator for economic growth, he said. Selling it or privatizing it doesn’t make sense, he added.
In May during budget discussions Republican lawmakers proposed selling Bradley and Brainard Airports. Republicans estimated the sale of the two airports would bring in about $800 million in one-time revenue. The Republican plan was offered seven days after Gov. M. Jodi Rell proposed creating a quasi-public authority to operate Bradley Airport.
At the time she estimated the state would see revenues from the airport increase by $25 million. It’s unclear how the calculation was made.
But Malloy said the idea didn’t go very far because Rell did nothing to further it. “She’s done nothing,“ Malloy said in a follow-up phone interview.
As for the dollar amount Malloy said he’s not certain exactly how much new revenue it would bring into the state, but others that have studied the issue in detail believe that for every one million passengers that come through the airport, 10,000 jobs are created.
If elected, “I will get the job done,” Malloy said.
Malloy envisioned a quasi-public authority with anywhere from five to 11 members. The appointments would come from the governor’s office and legislative leaders, much like other state quasi-public agencies like the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority.
Bradley International Airport is currently run by the state Department of Transportation. Hawaii and Alaska are the only other two states that operate airports in a similar fashion.
“It’s not as if we get it right and everybody else gets it wrong,” Malloy said.
Malloy said turning it into a quasi-public authority will make it a more nimble organization to take advantage of market changes and attract the kind of talent the state needs to increase passenger and cargo traffic.
Passenger trips at Bradley declined 23 percent between fiscal years 2006 and 2009. Malloy said. If that number was brought back up to 2006 levels it would create thousands of jobs, he said.
While much of the press conference was dedicated to how Malloy would change the governance structure of Bradley and the five other airports run by the state, he said it’s an example of how he would increase job growth for the state.
“We live in a state where jobs are obviously an issue and I believe that Bradley presents unique opportunities for job growth in the state of Connecticut,” Malloy said.
But the campaign of Malloy’s opponent wondered how creating another quasi-government body decreases the size and cost of government.
“When have you ever heard of a new government program that didn’t cost the state more money,“ Liz Osborn, spokeswoman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, said Monday. “Dan and Nancy are stuck on the same old song—more government is always the answer and that’s higher taxes for you.”
Asked if it was an expansion of government, Malloy said it’s exactly the opposite.
“It is setting up a framework in which the possibility of success becomes greater because the many steps necessary to make a decision under its current structure will be relieved,” Malloy said.