With $1 million for Ridgefield, money to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, and for engineering work on Route 84 exits in Danbury, a $166 million state bonding package won the support of State Rep. John Frey (R-111), despite some misgivings about some of the other spending it supports.

Frey joined his colleagues in support of what his office described as “a long-overdue bond package to provide promised, and much-needed, funding for municipal road repair, school construction, municipal projects and more.”

“After months of delays while the governor tried to get his tolls plan through the General Assembly,” Frey’s office said, the $166 million package (HB 5518) for both fiscal year 2020 and ’21 that passed March 11 provides $1,094,838 in total aid to Ridgefield, and includes funding for Town Aid Road (TAR), Local Capital Improvement (LOCIP) and grants for municipal projects. It represents a slight decrease of $25,324 for fiscal years ’20 and ’21, Frey’s office said.

“This plan is certainly not perfect, with small decreases in funding to Ridgefield and the addition of several items that are very problematic for me to support, but overall this is a good plan for the state and will release the long-awaited Town Aid Road and municipal funding cities and towns depend on,” Frey said.

I-84 engineering

“This plan also includes funding for engineering work to begin widening I-84 in Danbury between exits 3 and 8 which will bring faster commutes and reduced traffic congestion.”

Rep. Frey agreed with provisions in the plan that provide funding for what he called important transportation projects, bridge repair and replacement, school constructions grants, municipal aid, increases in funding for non-profit agencies, open space programs, and more.

The package was not unveiled in full until a few hours before debate began in the General Assembly, Rep. Frey said and it includes provisions he disagreed with, including $65 million to refurbish Hartford's XL Center, specific funding for Workforce Development in Bridgeport and Hartford, brownfield remediation for one small town in Eastern Connecticut and cleanup of a waste site in Hamden.

Republicans called an amendment to the package that would have preserved vital funding for Town Aid Road, school construction, public universities, while at the same time stripping earmarks in the underlying bill for the XL Center, the towns of Preston and East Hartford, and others. That amendment failed on a mostly party-line vote, Frey’s office said.

“This was a difficult vote because of the increased borrowing for earmarks and other projects I don’t feel are best funded with tax dollars, however it is a more responsible plan than in many previous years, comes in underneath the bond cap and provides funding to combat the recent Covid-19 outbreak,” Rep. Frey said. “I would like to see the governor truly put his ‘debt diet’ into place and curtail non-essential borrowing, but this is a good start.”

This story was released by the House Republicans of the Connecticut State Legislature.