HARTFORD, CT — One of the consequences of not having a budget for four months was an inability to put anything on the state’s credit card. Now that the state has a budget, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is proposing $1.07 billion in bonding to be approved at a special meeting next week.
The Dec. 8 meeting was canceled and a special meeting will be held Wednesday, Nov. 29, instead.
Administration officials said the delay in passing a budget has held up critical infrastructure projects and slowed certain parts of the economy, such as the construction trades. That’s why the meeting was moved up two weeks.
Earlier this year, Malloy had initially planned to borrow about $2.7 billion, however, the newly passed state budget included a $2 billion cap. Bonding $1.07 billion next Wednesday will bring the total amount of general obligation bonding for the calendar year up to $1.94 billion, which is $58.7 million shy of the new cap.
“With this agenda, the state is committing its support to essential economic development, housing, school construction, fire training school, and other critical infrastructure projects that were on hold as we operated without an enacted budget for nearly four months into the fiscal year,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said Tuesday. “Importantly, the proposed allocations included in this agenda fall within the new bonding cap established by the bipartisan budget. While it is imperative that we focus on a responsibly balanced state budget, we must also continue to make long term investments in Connecticut’s future.”
The Bond Commission agenda includes a number of projects, large and small.
There’s $40 million to make improvements to the XL Center in Hartford.
“These funds are requested to finance various improvements and related actions to improve the operational efficiency, increase revenues and improve value and amenities at the XL Center in Hartford,” according to the agenda.
Malloy had sought $250 million to improve the aging facility in downtown Hartford, but that was before the state’s revenue numbers fell far below projections in April. The XL Center is thought to be vital to the revitalization of downtown.
There’s also $20 million for the brownfield remediation the governor was touting in Hartford on Monday.
There’s $50 million to help improve the state’s information technology, including $28 million earmarked specifically for a health information system.
The Bond Commission is also looking at allocating $48 million to various companies who qualify for funding under the Manufacturing Assistance Act. Those include First Five companies like EDAC Technologies Corporation, which needs $10 million to assist in acquiring machinery and equipment at its facility in Cheshire, and others like Henkel of America Inc., which is receiving help relocating its Laundry and Home Care unit from Arizona to Stamford.
There is also $1.7 million in funding for body cameras for law enforcement and $30 million for improvements to school buildings in at least 30 districts and $500 million for school construction projects. There’s another $6 million for capital improvements at charter schools.
As promised earlier this month by the governor, the Bond Commission is also poised to approve $1 million in bonding for the Connecticut Television Network to “finance production and studio equipment.”
Malloy offered the $1 million in bonding to the legislature when contract negotiations with the nonprofit operator of the network were failing. The nonprofit operator eventually ended its contract with the state and a new contract is expected to be put out to bid in the spring.
There’s $17.5 million for the Eastern Connecticut Regional Fire Training School in Willimantic.
And there’s also $9 million for construction of a bath house building, lifeguard office, concession building, and a maintenance facility at Silver Sands State Park in Milford.
In an unusual move, Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, is asking the commission to vote against the funding.
“This project has moved on without support from community residents, and there has been no recent communication with Milford’s mayor or legislative delegation, or public announcements, as the project moved forward,” Slossberg said. “I and my colleagues in Milford are calling on the members of the State Bond Commission to listen to the people that will have to live with the decision they make next week, and vote against this bonding.”
The Malloy administration disagreed with Slossberg’s assessment.
“We appreciate the perspective and feedback from elected officials in Milford, but we respectfully disagree,” Kelly Donnelly, a spokeswoman for Malloy, said. “This project ensures important improvements are made to Silver Sands that will improve access to the park and build out basic amenities for visitors. It’s important to remember that this is a state park that serves tens of thousands of visitors from across Connecticut and beyond, and therefore it must be operated, maintained, and improved with all state residents in mind.”
Meanwhile, the Bond Commission is also poised to approve more than $94 million in special tax obligation bonds for replacement of the swing bridge in Norwalk on the New Haven rail line.
The Bond Commission will also be asked to approve the sale of $900 million in general obligation bonds.
The last Bond Commission meeting was in May and that was only the second Bond Commission meeting of the year.
Next Wednesday’s meeting may be the last one of the calendar year unless the governor calls for another special meeting.