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Gov. Lamont puts debt diet to the test in bond commission meeting

HARTFORD -- Governor Lamont’s so-called debt diet was put to the test Tuesday, as he chaired his first bond commission meeting and had to decide which major projects to put on the state’s credit card.

In past bond commission meetings we’ve seen 30 plus item agendas for things like water park splash pads.

But this was a lean agenda that represents a 65 percent reduction in bonding compared to past years.

“Alright well that was pretty easy. I hope the budget is that easy,” joked Lamont at the end of the meeting.

A simple 15 item agenda for Gov. Lamont’s first bond commission meeting.

State Rep. Chris Davis, a Republican representing East Windsor and Ellington said, “I think it’s refreshing that the Governor has come forward with this debt diet idea.”

Agenda items focused on needs — not wants.

“There are a lot of nice to have out there and I think the municipalities and the not for profits are going to have to take more of a lead on that in years to come,” said Lamont.

The items that made the cut focused mainly on transportation, economic development and municipal aid.

“I wanted to hold our municipalities harmless,” explained the Governor.

The state is setting aside $20 million to help homeowners with a crumbling foundation.

“If that funding wasn’t made available they would have had to cease accepting applications and perhaps not even follow through on some of the projects they’ve agreed to so this keeps it going. Obviously this is going to be the tip of the iceberg,” said Rep. Davis.

The state will also reimburse cities and towns to the tune of $2.6 million for police body cameras and storage. But transportation has the biggest price tag. Hundreds of millions of dollars was allocated for repairing roads and fixing bridges. There was 69 million alone to repair 220 miles of state roads where tolls are being proposed.

“We passed a lock box that was overwhelmingly passed. Anything we do with tolling is subject to federal authorization. That money has got to go to transportation by federal law,” said Gov. Lamont.

The only item that got pushed back was a construction loan to help a developer revitalize the vacant commercial building at 1400 Park Street in Hartford into an ethnic food marketplace.

Rep. Chris Davis thought the money shouldn’t come from the state.

“I felt like that funding source, $3.5 million for the construction loan is one that should have been gathered in the private sector rather than coming through the state of Connecticut trying to finance it,” he said.

In the end, all 15 items passed including grant money to revitalize the Veterans Cemetery in Middletown. Gov. Lamont said the next bond commission meeting scheduled for April 26th will likely be cancelled.

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