Governor. Dannel Malloy unveiled a two-year, nearly $40 billion state budget Wednesday that he said is "filled with tough choices" but includes a major overhaul of the state's aging transportation system.
While acknowledging the state's economy continues to recover, Malloy told a joint session of the General Assembly that "significant investment" is still needed to improve highways, bridges and rail over the next three decades to improve economic development and quality of life.
Malloy has submitted a 75 page transportation plan for improvements. He is calling for a fix to the bottleneck on Interstate 84 through Danbury, and for continuous 3 lanes between Danbury and Waterbury. That includes adding a lane between the New York state line and exit 3. By alleviating what he calls "unacceptable congestion" through Danbury, air pollution will be reduced, traffic will decrease and make the Danbury region more attractive for commerce. His plan calls for fixing the exit 3 to 8 corridor with additional lanes and reconfigured access points.
Malloy has also proposed extending the Route 7 expressway north to the interchange of Routes 7 and 33 in Wilton. He is suggesting that the Stevenson Dam Bridge on Route 34 over the Housatonic River in Monroe and Oxford be replaced. He says that would address substandard, deteriorating conditions while improving road geometry.
Malloy is also proposing an upgrade to provide full connectivity and service to the New Haven line, the Danbury and Waterbury branches and to freight lines. Electrification of the Danbury Branch Line between South Norwalk and Danbury would allow for extended one-seat ride service on the New Haven Line. Malloy is also backing a proposal to extend rail service from Danbury to New Milford, and electrifying the service.
Malloy is calling on Connecticut lawmakers to create a secure transportation “lock box” to ensure that every penny assigned to transportation will be spent on transportation only.
Malloy's budget plan contains more than $590 million in cuts to the current services budget.
His proposal maintains current ECS funding for public schools. Malloy says he wants to build on education reforms that have been implemented in the last several years. The budget proposal would help ensure that by the fall of 2017, every child in Connecticut will receive a full-day kindergarten experience.
The Budget also continues to fund municipal aid to help hold down local property taxes. Malloy says lowering the state's sales tax can be accomplished by simplifying the tax code, removing some exemptions and reigning in loopholes and corporate taxes. One of the proposed exemptions to be eliminated is the one on clothing items under $50.