Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy became the second governor to address the Connecticut Association of Street & Highway Officials (CASHO) Friday at its 66th Annual Meeting and his remarks were brief and to the point.
"I'm going to tell my commissioners that you need to know about your filing in a timely manner and if you have projects, we are here and we're open for business," Malloy said.
Only William O'Neill had previously addressed the organization as a sitting governor.
CASHO had a morning-long program that culminated with remarks from Malloy, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, Connecticut Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Donald DeFronzo and Attorney General George Jepsen.
"The state of Connecticut has to pay attention to infrastructure and that is where you can help us," Malloy said. "I have to be honest, it is in pretty tough shape. We weren't spending enough when things were good and it's tough to spend when times are bad. We are bonding more and moving more projects forward and that progress will continue.
"My first day in office the unemployment rate was 9.3 percent, which was higher than the national average. We brought it down to 7.8 percent, which is below the national average, and we did it pretty quickly. How did we do that? We supported commerce. We understand some of you make money from us. We want to make this state look like something we can be proud of again. If you see some frustration on our part it is that the process is not modernized."
One of the things Malloy promised was that he would try to shorten the time it takes towns and construction firms to get approvals.
"I'm going to go back to the commissioners like the DEP and tell them you need to know in 60 days whether it is yes or no," Malloy said. "And I'd like to see it get down to 45 days for a decision. If you have projects ready to go, get your filings into us on time and we'll get it done. When you're dealing with commissioners like Don DeFronzo and Bud Salemi you're talking about guys with 'can-do' attitudes."
CASHO, led by President Thomas Crowe, Director of Public Works in Southbury, had sessions in the morning on the impact of the two storms last year and the impact of the consolidation of state offices.
Lee Hoffman, a member of the governor's Two Storm Panel, talked to CASHO about how Tropical Storm Irene and the October Nor'easter impacted the state. DeFronzo then spoke about the possible impact of the consolidation of the Department of Administrative Services and Public Works.
CASHO is a not-for-profit educational organization whose mission is to provide education on public works functions including but not limited to highways, streets and roads and also including but not limited to governmentally or quasi-governmentally owned public utilities. More than 150 Connecticut municipalities are represented among CASHO’s 300-plus members. CASHO provides Connecticut municipalities with the most effective vehicle for making their views on public works issues known to the General Assembly from the standpoint of the experts — the people who build, reconstruct and maintain local roads.
"I want you to know if you have a problem. Pick up the phone and call me," Malloy added. "I return phone calls and sometimes call people, especially in local government, on my own to the shock of many."