Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was in Washington this week talking about transportation and economic development at a conference where organizers hope to pair government entities with investors.
Malloy told reporters Wednesday that he attended the SelectUSA conference and participated in a White House forum on alternative ways to fund transportation projects.
When he unveiled his budget last month Malloy said he would be creating a 30-member task force to make recommendations about how the state should proceed with a $100 billion, 30-year plan to improve its transportation infrastructure. The governor is leaving it up to a soon-to-be named commission and the legislature to figure out how to pay for the improvements.
But Malloy is studying up to be part of that conversation and looking for alternatives to traditional financing.
“There are many ways to pay for transportation infrastructure,” Malloy said.
He said partnering with a pension fund investor “could make a lot of sense.” Malloy met with a variety of investors at the SelectUSA conference.
Malloy said these investors are looking for investments with higher returns than parking meters and treasuries.
It’s easy to understand how a parking garage or parking meters with a dedicated source of revenue could take advantage of these investments, but it’s a little tougher to understand how building a highway would be a good investment unless there were tolls.
How the state of Connecticut would repay the investors in a public-private partnership is still unclear. It could come from the gas tax, highway tolls, or additional bonding capacity.
The legislature’s Transportation Committee last week forwarded to the House of Representatives bill that would allow the state to install tolls.
Malloy said he’s “agnostic” when it comes to highway tolls.
He said even if the state had tolls it wouldn’t be enough to fully-fund the vision he has for improving Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure.
“This is going to be multiple revenue sources and that discussion needs to be had,” Malloy said.
Those discussions will begin soon. Malloy said he expects to release the names of those chosen for the task force in the next few days.