NEW HAVEN — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy stood on a dock at the city harbor Tuesday with Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and unveiled a plan to utilize the state’s three deepwater ports more, toward economic growth, job creation and getting vehicles off the road.
“It’s time to stop talking about it and time to get going,” Malloy said. “Without state leadership and state resources and a coordinated effort to secure federal assistance, the economic potential of Connecticut deepwater ports will not be realized.”
Malloy said recent developments in Rhode Island have made Providence the fastest-growing commercial port in the Northeast, with an economic impact estimated at $200 million per year.
Malloy Tuesday made stops at ports in New Haven, New London and Bridgeport to promote his initiative. He said each port does over $100 million in annual foreign trade.
If elected governor, Malloy said he’d look to create a State Port Authority, comprised of unpaid gubernatorial appointments and representatives from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Department of Transportation and the three ports, that would focus on private and public investment; pursuit of federal funds for dredging and infrastructure; marketing of ports to domestic and foreign industry; coordination of capital projects; and assessment of entrepreneurial initiatives. Malloy said the authority would be staffed by existing personnel.
He emphasized the State Port Authority would not manage operations of local ports, which operate under a local port authority, although the State Maritime Commission conveys state policy in port matters, Malloy said.
A proposal for a statewide port authority died in the legislature this year and the Connecticut Maritime Commission sent a letter to the DECD last week asking that it also be put off in 2011-12 until questions on its relationship with the existing ports are clarified. This is not the model suggested by Malloy.
The New Haven port is primarily a cluster of privately owned facilities run by private investors. DeStefano said New Haven is the 54th busiest port of the nation’s 105 deepwater ports.
But Republican candidate Tom Foley said Malloy’s plan is a “bad idea,” because Connecticut “doesn’t need more government, we need more jobs.”
Foley said although Malloy claims the new authority won’t make a fiscal impact and he would allocate up to $50 million in previously authorized Special Tax Obligation bonds to pay for it, that really isn’t the case.
“Did I hear that right? Does he mean that it isn’t really spending if it has already been authorized or if we are borrowing the money? This is the same tricky accounting from Hartford that got us into this mess,” Foley said. “Government doesn’t create jobs, businesses do. The right jobs policy is not more government and more spending, but getting government off the backs of employers and solving the uncertainty created by our budget deficit.”
Malloy said redirecting previously approved bonding to strategic projects that will create jobs is the proper role of government.
By Pamela McLoughlin, Register Staff