Lamont tells municipalities funding on the way
Towns and cities digging out from the first winter snowstorm of the year — and wondering how to pay for it — may get some financial relief by Christmas.
Cities and towns have been waiting on state funding, given annually to towns in the form of grants to pay for things like road repaving, fall tree clearing and winter snow removal. Release of the funds has been held up since July by Gov. Ned Lamont’s debt diet and negotiations over how much he and the legislature will agree to borrow for major transportation infrastructure projects.
Lamont promised a bond commission meeting to free up the funds municipalities have been waiting on, as well as a special legislative session, will happen this month, during an unscripted 20-minute speech to municipal leaders Tuesday at the annual convention of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
“These folks have come to count on that, they need that for their planning purposes,” Lamont said Tuesday. “That was a deal I made with them and I’m pretty darn sure we’re not going to be borrowing that much money from the (General Obligation) fund so we can do that. They can count on it.”
The bond commission will meet Dec. 18, said Lamont spokesman Rob Blanchard.
“I know how important it is that you get the bonded revenues that you’ve come to expect and count upon, and I just want you to know that I wasn’t being a jerk by being slow about this,” Lamont said. “There was a plan out there to pay for transportation with $700 million a year in additional bonding, which would have crowded out some of our other priorities. We’re very close to reaching an agreement with the legislature. It’s not going to include $700 million a year in bonding and that means ... we’re going to have a bond commission meeting that frees up all of the (local capital improvement) and paving money that you need and can expect and count upon and we’re going to get that done.”
Lamont also indicated in his remarks that a special legislative session is on the way this month and tossed out a handful of possible dates during the same week as the scheduled bond commission meeting, but it’s unclear what will be on the itinerary when that happens. Lamont, of course, hopes some version of his 10-year transportation plan will be on the docket.
“(Chief of Staff) Ryan (Drajewicz) and the leadership are meeting right now trying to figure out what we have to do between now and the special session later in December, to see if we can get this voted on,” Lamont said. “I think we have a plan that doesn’t raid the rainy day fund.”
It is expected that the December special session will address the state hospital tax and the long-term bonding package for capital projects throughout the state, such as school construction.
Senate Democratic spokesman Kevin Coughlin said the Senate Democratic caucus is working with the Governor's office and the three other caucuses on a potential mid-December special session.
“The issues covered by any possible session have yet to be determined,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said it is his understanding that the legislature will be called in to vote on a hospital settlement in December, but that there’s still administrative work that must be done before a vote can take place.
“I hope we will also be voting on legislation to address the minimum wage tip credit which was negotiated by all four caucuses and the administration,” Fasano said. “I do not know if the governor will make the bonding package part of a special session. The governor has excluded Republicans entirely from bonding negotiations and has not shared any information.”
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