Gov. Dannel Malloy vetoed a bill Friday that would give the city of Hartford more control over the commission charged with development and planning around the Capitol complex.
The bill, which received unanimous support from both the House and Senate, would reconfigure the Connecticut Capitol Center Commission to include six representatives from the city of Hartford, remove three from the executive branch and designate the mayor of Hartford as the chair.
Currently, the commission has five representatives from the executive branch, six from the legislative branch, and three from the city of Hartford. They review the master plan of the Capitol Center District, which guides all development, and report their findings to the General Assembly and the governor.
The authority to implement and amend plans was held by the Department of Public Works, but under recently enacted legislation aimed at consolidating state agencies, the Department of Administrative Services and Department of Constructive Services took over DPW’s responsibilities.
The bill would give the commission the power to make revisions to the master plan and submit it to the General Assembly only. Under the bill the commissioners of DAS and DCS do not have the power to amend the master plan.
“These legislative changes will diminish the state’s ability to develop, purchase or use properties in the area surrounding the State Capitol in a manner that it deems desirable and appropriate,” Malloy said in his veto message.
The bill would have removed executive input by no longer submitting the revised plan to the governor.
“I object to this reduction of executive input and authority into the development of the Capitol Center District, considering that the vast majority of state property in that area is dedicated to the use by executive branch agencies,” Malloy said.
Malloy agreed the city of Hartford should have input in the development of the Capitol Center District, but said the bill did not reflect a necessary balance in input from the legislative branch, the executive branch and the city.
Since the bill was vetoed Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra will not chair the commission, leaving Secretary of the Office of Policy Management Ben Barnes as the chair.
“The mayor understands why the Governor chose to veto this legislation. Because of the Governor’s desire to streamline government and reduce the number of commissions, coupled with the iQuilt and Greening of America’s Capitals efforts that the city is spearheading, there are certainly enough institutional supports in place to promote the overall mission of the Capitol Design Commission,” said Sarah Barr, a spokesperson for Segarra, in an email.
Malloy also vetoed a bill that would have created an enterprise zone around Oxford Airport.
Malloy said the legislation was “premature,” since he just signed another piece of legislation that creates a Connecticut Airport Authority that will look at all the state’s airports and develop a strategic plan going forward.
“Clearly, the CAA must play a significant role in the economic development future of Oxford Airport and the surrounding areas. Given this fact—and the importance of developing one integrated approach to our initiatives in this field—it is premature to approve an airport development zone that includes areas surrounding Oxford Airport and beyond before the CAA has the opportunity to properly analyze and consider the implications of such a zone in the context of its large mission,” Malloy wrote in his veto message of the legislation.
But the bill received overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate and the veto has some lawmakers scratching their heads.
Sen. Rob Kane, the Republican who represents Oxford, said he’s “shocked” by the veto. He said the legislation would have created a tax exemption for businesses and the state would have reimbursed the towns for the loss of that tax revenue.
“With this bill, the governor was presented with a golden opportunity to actually match his jobs talk with action. He could have enabled Oxford Airport to soar to new heights,” Kane said in a statement. “Instead, this veto marks a failure on his part – a failure to recognize an avenue for economic growth and a failure to listen to the people of Oxford and surrounding towns.”
In a phone interview Kane said the Connecticut Airport Authority Malloy created is about the management of the airports, not economic development.
“Why wait? This is a perfect example of what the state needs to be doing to jump start the economy,” Kane said.
The bill passed the House 145 to 1 and the Senate 36 to 0. He said the legislature created a similar economic development zone for Bradley International Airport a year ago.
He said while Oxford is not competing with Bradley for commercial traffic it does have its fair share of private jets. He said a lot of lawmakers agreed the local economy that relies mostly on residential property taxes to support it would benefit from some development and expansion of the tax base.
Christine Stuart contributed to this report.