In the wake of recent downgrades by two credit rating agencies of the state’s General Obligation (GO) paper, the bond package (SB 503), which was supported unanimously in the House and 34-2 in the Senate, took a necessary new path. I have always believed that bonding is an investment for the future of our state, and while we did cut nearly $1 billion in borrowing—we still managed to provide a mechanism for advancing proven projects in a timely, cost effective manner. Our bonding subcommittee conducted three full days of meetings with departmental commissioners—legislative members were present, prepared, attentive and alert…as were members of our professional support staff.
In these dire economic times—it is always darkest before pitch black—the subcommittee was steadfastly optimistic and remained fiscally responsible. The line items included in the bond bill are authorizations which can be thought of as enabling legislation. Authorizations include school construction, municipal aid in the form of Town Aid Road, STEAP and Urban Act grants, housing, environmental initiatives, economic development programs, and pools of money to help subsidize the work of nonprofit organizations. However, to become monies spent, the items must be allocated or approved by the State Bond Commission. This legislation is a real time road map that defines what could be accomplished with bond funds…both the possible and probable.
Although there is still much work to be done, this plan gets Connecticut going in the right fiscal direction while meeting the goals of the bonding subcommittee: accountability, transparency and prioritization. This was a truly bipartisan effort that created a thoughtful and needs-driven document.