Gov. Dannel Malloy told NBC Connecticut in an exclusive interview Friday that if the state is going to get serious about improving its roads and railroads, then two things must take place.
"We need a real legislative answer on the short-term basis because we can't wait two years to have this discussion, and we can't wait two years to start spending the money, so we need a legislative solution foremost," Malloy explained, "and we need a constitutional solution."
Malloy said the state must protect its Special Transportation Fund from future governors and members of the General Assembly who might be tempted to dip into it.
If the proposed constitutional amendment, which has yet to be drafted and presented to lawmakers, is passed by the Connecticut House and Senate, it will then be on the ballot for the 2016 election.
The governor will also propose a statutory change that would allow some transportation improvements to take place immediately.
"If we don't represent that we're serious about changing our ways, that we're going to make these investments in a very planned way, then I think we're going to lose big time," Malloy said.
He said the changes to transportation are about much more than getting people around the state. According to the governor, the state has “absolutely” lost out on economic development projects, purely because of the its crumbling infrastructure.
Part of the sales pitch for improving the roads and rails, according to Malloy, is to show that there are places in Connecticut ripe for development that aren’t named Stamford and Greenwich.
"I believe that jobs that might have come to Connecticut either moved to or stared in Westchester or moved to northern Jersey," Malloy said.
The governor did not elaborate on a plan to pay for the plan, which includes widening all of Interstate 95 and could easily cost tens of billions of dollars. He wouldn’t rule out the notion of building tolls and charging some drivers to travel in Connecticut.
“We have to have the conversation,” Malloy said. “I challenge people to see all of the out-of-state license plates on 84, 91 and 95. If we're going to raise money, the people who use our roads should be contributing. If we're going to make a better system for all of our residents and non-residents alike, non-residents should be contributing."
On the issue of the state’s budget, the governor said he’s had numerous meetings on crafting the two-year spending plan.
He’ll address the General Assembly next month with his spending plan, which he said will be a “tough” budget to assemble.
"Revenues, nationally, in state after state after state are growing far less rapidly than at any similar time since the Second World War, which means that states have to change the way they do business," the governor said.
Malloy also shot down any notion that he would leave office before the end of his second term, with the 2016 presidential race already stealing headlines.
"I'm going to be governor for the next four years. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I love the job. I love to tackle big issues and we're going to do it," he said.