Connecticut lawmakers Wednesday approved a bonding package that calls for roughly $2.5 billion in borrowing each of the next two fiscal years.
The funding would go to a range of projects, including affordable housing, the State Pier in New London, safety measures to address wrong-way driving, and money for new vote tabulators.
“Bonding projects are often the lifeline of the state,” Senate President Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven said.
The bond package received a 145-4 vote in the House of Representatives, followed shortly after by a 35-1 vote in the Senate.
The borrowing plan authorizes $2.59 billion in borrowing for fiscal year 2024, and $2.45 billion the following year.
Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, co-chairman of the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, said the list of projects are “important capital investments in our state, including state buildings, economic development, environmental protection.”
That includes a total of $600 million toward Gov. Ned Lamont’s housing initiatives: $100 million each year for flexible housing and $200 million annually for a Housing Trust Fund to support multi-unit, transit-oriented development.
The bill also authorizes a total of $150 million over two years for Lamont’s Time To Own initiative, which provides down-payment assistance to qualifying buyers.
Other projects in the bill include $1 billion for school construction projects around the state.
“I would say every project is significant to the member that requested it,” said Rep. Jeff Currey, D-East Hartford. “We’re making improvements around the state.”
The package also authorizes $151 million in new bonding, including $10 million in the second year for renovations to Gampel Pavilion, and $152.4 million in prior authorizations to UConn.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system saw $313.25 million in authorizations, including $105 million for deferred code compliance and infrastructure improvements.
Other authorizations include $30 million to the Connecticut Port Authority for dredging and other improvements, which lawmakers said is for the State Pier, and $30 million for Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas to purchase new voting tabulators.
The package also includes $3 million in fiscal year 2025 to pay for registrars to get training on the machines. The bill also allows regional councils of government, or COGs, to contract with nonpartisan election advisors.
“I don’t think we take enough advantage of our COGs,” said Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, said. I know people fight regionalization, but where we consolidate forces and save, particularly our smaller towns, money, I think is a great idea.
Additionally, the bond package authorizes a total of $606.9 million to the Department of Transportation for road projects.
That number includes $20 million each year to purchase and install wrong-way driving technology, which notifies state police when a driver enters a highway in the wrong direction and alerts drivers through electronic signs.
The legislature instructed the DOT to install the technology at 120 intersections identified as high risk.
Some individual municipalities also benefit from the bond package, notably Bridgeport. The bill includes a total of $42 million, through the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, to repair damage from flooding.
West Hartford, meanwhile, is in line to get $30 million for water system improvements. That’s on top of competitive grants available to all towns, including $25 million each year for the Small Town Economic Assistance Program and $100 million annually for urban development projects through the Office of Policy and Management.