Christine Stuart photo
At a bill signing ceremony Monday, Gov. M. Jodi Rell decided not to fire back at former governor John G. Rowland who told the Washington Post in a story that ran Sunday, “She threw me under the bus when it got rough.”

Instead, Rell who served as Rowland’s lieutenant governor for 10 years, took the high road. She said she understands her predecessor’s “anger and frustration,” but “I will always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me.”

“I wish him and his family the very best,” Rell said before rushing off to the noon budget discussions being held at the Governor’s mansion.

Click here to read the profile of Rowland in the Washington Post or continue reading to hear Rell’s response to the latest in budget negotiations.

In the recent weeks following the end of the legislative session, Rell has stayed on message when asked by reporters how budget negotiations are going.

“It feels like I’ve said this a hundred thousand times,” Rell said before answering questions about why she hasn’t taken part yet in the discussions. She said Budget Secretary Robert Genuario is the one who negotiates the budget on my behalf until a deal is close.

“We’re not there yet,” Rell said. She said at the meeting Monday she expects to go back over the ground rules for negotiations.

She said the major stumbling block still is that the Democrats spending proposal is too high. Rell still refuses to believe there is an estimated $250 million hole in her own spending proposal, if the state doesn’t increase taxes as the Republicans have proposed.

Patrick Scully, director of communications for the Senate Democrats, sent out an email Monday highlighting portions of Rell’s budget address from February which seems to answer the Republican’s question about why a no tax increase budget doesn’t work.

“Some may ask: Why is it that we need tax increases next fiscal year when the state has a 500 million dollar budget surplus this year?

Because the cost of running state government next year – without any new programs or services – will increase by over 800 million dollars just to fund inflation, debt service, health care for active and retired state employees, energy costs to heat and light state buildings, gasoline for state police vehicles, arbitrated contract awards for state employees and more. $800 million before any new investments are made.

And I want to make new investments – investments for the generations – especially in education, in property tax relief, in health care, and in energy relief.”

So the question for Rell really becomes what investments is she willing to give up to forego a tax increase?