Millions added to the state’s credit card during bond commission meeting

HARTFORD — A supermarket, a parking garage and a deal with an airline.

Those are just three of the projects the state committed millions of dollars toward at Thursday’s meeting of the State Bond Commission. Gov. Dannel Malloy hopes those investments now will pay bigger dividends later.

All 37 of the agenda items passed, 28 passed unanimously. There was criticism from some Republicans.

“The bond commission meeting we just completed is a win for the State of Connecticut,” declared Gov. Malloy.

The state will borrow $8.5 million to establish a grocery store in the Hartford food desert, the city's first full service grocery store in nearly a generation.

“It’s part of a $100 million dollar redevelopment. It’s not any different than the efforts that we have done in other cities and communities across the state to leverage a private investment,” said Gov. Malloy.

Some Republicans said it’s an issue for the private sector.

“In most circumstances when there is a need, the public sector fills that and in this case it seems like the State of Connecticut is filling that need,” said Rep. Chris Davis, a Republican from the 57th District.

The grocery store, along with about 200 apartments slated to be built next to Dunkin' Donuts Park — are just a few of the hot button issues wrapped into a more than $100 million investment in redeveloping Hartford.

“My administration has now funded over 24,000 units of housing, more the 21,000 of which are affordable,” said Gov. Malloy.

“Not sure if they are generating the revenue to pay off all of their bonds. Right now they are in a situation where the State of Connecticut has bailed them out,” said Rep. Davis.

Republicans also fought back when it came to $75.5 million toward various community projects from handball courts in Manchester to splash pads in New Haven and the construction of playgrounds across the state.

“It’s certainly something that we should be doing in a situation where we are looking at major budget deficits in the future,” said Rep. Davis.

There was also debate over a parking garage to be built at the former public health lab on Clinton Street in Hartford. The cost — $16 million. It allows the state to vacate and sell the surface lot east of the Capitol for residential or mixed use development.

There also is a lot of debate about the nearly $9 million extension of a deal with Aer Lingus to continue services at Bradley Airport for the next 4 years. Republicans said the state shouldn’t be subsidizing funding when ridership is down.