PA 07-239—sHB 7090

Planning and Development Committee

Appropriations Committee

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Commerce Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING RESPONSIBLE GROWTH

SUMMARY: This act establishes an incentive grant program to encourage the provision of municipal services on a regional basis. It requires the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary to review, within available appropriations, (1) regional tax-based revenue sharing programs and (2) the establishment of regional asset districts.

The act establishes a Responsible Growth Task Force and specifies its membership. It requires the task force to (1) identify responsible growth criteria and standards to guide the state's future investment decisions and (2) study transfer of development rights laws, policies, and programs. The task force must report its recommendations to the governor by February 15, 2008. It will terminate on the day it submits the report.

The act raises the threshold of capital projects undertaken by state agencies that must be consistent with the State Plan of Conservation and Development. It imposes sanctions on municipalities that fail to amend their local plans of conservation and development every 10 years, as required by law.

The act requires the commissioner of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to prepare a state economic development strategic plan by July 1, 2009 and every five years thereafter. The commissioner must do this within available appropriations.

By law, Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs) must prepare regional plans of development every 10 years. The act requires that these plans include a finding as to whether they are consistent with the state economic development strategic plan.

The act explicitly makes transportation one of the issues that regional councils of governments must address.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007, except the task force and economic development plan provisions are effective upon passage and the sanctions for failing to amend local plans of conservation and development are effective July 1, 2010.

REGIONAL PERFORMANCE INCENTIVE GRANT PROGRAM

The act establishes this program and requires OPM to administer it. By December annually, it allows RPAs, regional councils of elected officials, and regional councils of governments, or combinations of these entities to submit a proposal to the OPM secretary for the joint provision of one or more services that are currently provided by municipalities in or contiguous to the region. The proposal must include services that may increase the participating municipalities' purchasing power or reduce their expenses and thus lower property taxes. A copy of the proposal must be sent to the legislators representing the participating municipalities.

The proposal must (1) describe at least one service currently provided on a municipal rather than regional basis; (2) describe how the service would be delivered regionally, including which entity would deliver the service and how the population would continue to be served; (3) describe how the service would achieve economies of scale and how much would be saved; (4) describe the amount of the reduction in the mill rate due to the resulting savings and how this reduction would be implemented; (5) include a cost/benefit analysis of providing the service on a regional versus municipal basis; (6) set out an implementation plan for providing the service regionally; (7) estimate the savings for each municipality; and (8) include other information requested by the OPM secretary. The proposal must have the following attachments: (1) a resolution by the legislative body of each participating municipality endorsing the proposal and (2) a certification by each municipality that there are no legal obstacles to providing the service regionally, such as binding arbitration. The proposal must be submitted on a form prescribed by OPM.

The OPM secretary must review all of the proposals and award grants to those that he determines best meet the act's requirements. In making the grants, the secretary must give priority to proposals presented by regional councils of government that include participation by at least half of the council's member municipalities.

By February 1, annually, the secretary must report to the governor and the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee regarding the grants. The report must include information on the amount of the grants and the potential of the grants for leveraging other public and private investments.

OPM REVIEWS

The act requires the OPM secretary to review, within available appropriations, (1) regional tax-based revenue sharing programs and (2) the establishment of regional asset districts. The reviews must study available models of these types of measures, the adaptations that might be needed to use these models in Connecticut, and other possible effects on municipal and regional finances. The revenue sharing review must also address the effect on property taxes and grand lists. By July 1, 2008, the secretary must report the results of the reviews and his recommendations regarding revenue sharing and regional asset districts to the Planning and Development and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees.

RESPONSIBLE GROWTH TASK FORCE MEMBERS

Under the act, the 19-member task force consists of agency heads or their designees, two members appointed by the governor, and six legislatively appointed members. The agencies are OPM, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, Connecticut Development Authority, Connecticut Innovations, Inc. , the Commission on Culture and Tourism, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, and the departments of Agriculture, Economic and Community Development, Environmental Protection, Public Health, and Transportation. The governor must appoint two people, each of whom is or was the chief elected official or city or town manager of a municipality, one from a municipality with more than 25,000 people and one from a smaller town. The top six legislative leaders each appoint one task force member. The OPM secretary or his designee serves as the chairperson.

CONSISTENCY WITH THE STATE PLAN OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT

By law, certain state agency actions must be consistent with the State Plan of Conservation and Development when they are funded by the state or federal government. Under prior law, these actions were: (1) the acquisition of real property or public transportation equipment or facilities costing over $100,000, (2) the development or improvement of real property costing over $100,000, and (3) state grants exceeding $100,000 for such acquisitions or developments. The act increases these thresholds to $200,000.

SANCTIONS FOR FAILING TO AMEND LOCAL PLANS OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT

By law, municipalities must amend their plans of conservation and development at least once every 10 years. If they do not, the municipality's chief elected official must send a letter to the OPM secretary and the transportation, economic and community development, and environmental protection commissioners explaining why the plan was not amended.

By law, a copy of this letter must be included with any application submitted to these state officials for funding the conservation or development of real property. The act expands this provision to require that a copy of this letter be included in each municipal application for discretionary funding submitted to any state agency. (PA 07-5, June Special Session, limits this provision to applications for state funding. ) It makes the municipality ineligible for such funding unless the OPM secretary expressly waives this provision.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIC PLAN

The act requires the DECD commissioner by July 1, 2009, and every five years thereafter, to prepare an economic strategic plan for the state. The commissioner must consult with the OPM secretary; the environmental protection, transportation, and labor commissioners; the executive directors of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, the Connecticut Development Authority, the Connecticut Innovations, Inc. , the Commission on Culture and Tourism, and the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority; and the president of the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, or their respective designees, and other agencies the DECD commissioner considers appropriate.

In developing the plan, the DECD commissioner must:

1. ensure that the plan is consistent with the (a) text and locational guide map of the State Plan of Conservation and Development, (b) the long-range state housing plan, and (c) state transportation strategy;

2. consult regional councils of governments, RPAs, regional economic development agencies, interested state and local officials, entities involved in economic and community development, stakeholders, and business, economic, labor, community and housing organizations;

3. consider (a) regional economic, community, and housing development plans and (b) applicable state and local workforce investment strategies;

4. assess and evaluate the state's economic development challenges and opportunities against the economic development competitiveness of other states and regions; and

5. host regional forums to involve the public in the planning process.

The plan must include:

1. a review and evaluation of the state's economy, which must include a sectoral analysis, housing market and housing affordability analysis, labor market and labor quality analysis, and demographic analysis including historic trend analysis and projections;

2. a review and analysis of factors, issues, and forces that affect or impede economic development and responsible growth in Connecticut and its regions, including transportation (such as commuter transit, rail, and barge freight), technology transfer, brownfield remediation and development, health care delivery and costs, early education, primary education, secondary and post secondary education systems and student performance, business regulation, labor force quality and sustainability, social services costs and delivery systems, affordable and workforce housing cost and availability, land use policy, emergency preparedness, taxation, availability of capital, and energy costs and supply;

3. an identification and analysis of economic clusters that are growing or declining within the state;

4. an analysis of targeted industry sectors in the state that identifies (a) sectors that are or will be important to the growth of the state's economy and to its global competitive position, (b) what these sectors need for continued growth, and (c) these sectors' current and potential impediments to growth;

5. a review and evaluation of the state's economic development structure including (a) a review and analysis of the past and current economic, community, and housing development structures, budgets and policies, efforts and responsibilities of its constituent parts in Connecticut; and (b) an analysis of the performance of the current economic, community, and housing development structure, and its individual constituent parts, in meeting its statutory obligations, responsibilities, and mandates and their impact on economic development and responsible growth in Connecticut;

6. the establishment and articulation of a vision for Connecticut that identifies where the state should be in five, 10, 15, and 20 years;

7. the establishment of clear and measurable goals and objectives for the state and regions, to meet the short- and long-term goals established under the act and provide clear steps and strategies to achieve these goals and objectives, including: (a) promoting economic development and opportunity, (b) fostering effective transportation access and choice including the use of airports and ports for economic development, (c) enhancing and protecting the environment, (e) maximizing the effective development and use of the workforce consistent with applicable state or local workforce investment strategy, (e) promoting the use of technology in economic development including access to high-speed telecommunications, and (f) balancing resources through sound management of physical development;

8. ranking goals and objectives established under this provision;

9. the establishment of relevant measures that clearly identify and quantify (a) whether a goal and objective is being met at the state, regional, local, and private sector level, and (b) cause and effect relationships, and provides a clear and replicable measurement methodology;

10. recommendations on how the state can best achieve goals under the strategic plan and provide cost estimates for implementation of the plan and the projected return on investment for those areas; and

11. other responsible growth information that the DECD commissioner considers appropriate.

By July 1, 2009, and every five years thereafter, the DECD commissioner must submit the plan to the governor for approval. The governor must review and approve or disapprove the plan within 60 days after submission. The plan is effective upon approval by the governor or 60 days after the date of submission.

Once approved, the commissioner must submit the plan to the Appropriations; Commerce; Finance, Revenue and Bonding; and Planning and Development committees. Within 30 days of this submission, the DECD commissioner must post the plan on DECD's web site.

The DECD commissioner may periodically revise and update the plan with the governor's approval. The commissioner must post any revisions on the DECD web site.

KM: JM: CR: TS