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Senate Democrats pointed to Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s failure to hire a Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner this morning in a press release. This afternoon Rell’s office called the press release “an embarrassing attempt” to divert attention away from their failure to address the governor’s education and property tax proposal.

“It has now been more than 100 days and we still don’t have a new commissioner in arguably one of the most important state agencies,” Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said in the press release. “In addition, the state still lacks an executive director of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism—another valuable part of economic development.”

Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-East Hartford, said, “I think three-and-a-half months is enough time to advertise for and hire a DECD commissioner. And I hope once he or she is in place, they can help change the governor’s mind about some of her proposed cuts to the pro-jobs and pro-business initiatives in the ‘Jobs for the 21st Century’ bill.”

Rell’s spokesman Rich Harris said Democrats should be focusing on passing the governor’s education proposal so children in school now receive the education and preparation they need for jobs in the 21st century.

“This is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to change the subject,” Harris said.

An email from the governor’s office said the Search Committee has narrowed down the list of candidates and has forwarded it to the Governor’s Office for further consideration. 

Democrats compared Connecticut’s progress on this issue to with its neighbor.

By comparison, New York State is far ahead of Connecticut in terms of economic development, Williams said. Governor Eliot Spitzer was elected at the same time Jodi Rell was elected.  Yet he was able to conduct a search and put his economic development team of national experts in place by the end of January.

“There’s no excuse for Connecticut not being up to speed on this,” he said.