Gov. M. Jodi Rell returned to Connecticut Tuesday evening feeling that the lines of communication between the nation’s governors and president-elect Barack Obama were open.
“We did not go there asking for anything specifically,” Rell said referring to Tuesday’s meeting in Philadelphia with both Obama and vice-president elect Joe Biden.
Rell, who drove back to Hartford Tuesday evening, said the governor’s told the newly elected administration that if there’s going to be a second stimulus package then “we would like to be part of it.”
She said one of the areas most likely to be funded in a second stimulus package would be state infrastructure projects. “The president-elect is very much interested in that kind of a stimulus package,” she said.
In anticipation of a second stimulus, Rell said she has already directed Connecticut agencies to identify projects that are “shovel ready” – including road, bridge, rail and public buildings and economic development and housing initiatives that have received all necessary permits and final designs.
Democratic leaders in the legislature wrote a letter to Rell Tuesday saying, “We are particularly pleased to learn of your directive to state agencies to begin identifying infrastructure projects that may be implemented promptly if additional federal funds become available.”
Meanwhile, Rell said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger explained that helping state’s with infrastructure projects doesn’t always mean giving them more money. Sometimes it’s a matter of cutting through the red tape. To that end, Rell said the governors will let the new administration know where the red tape exits.
While the governors didn’t go to Philadelphia with their hats in their hands, Rell did say there was a request for more Medicaid dollars. She said Obama listened to what they had to say about Medicaid reimbursements and told them there may be some money for that. However, Rell said the governors were unanimous in telling Obama they didn’t want funding that would be taken away in two years. On the other hand, Rell said the governor’s let him know an increase in Medicaid dollars may be beneficial if unemployment continues to grow.
This was the first time Rell, a Republican governor, met president-elect Obama.
“The president-elect was very gracious with his time,” Rell said.
She said she shook his hand twice and during the second handshake he wished her good luck next year. She said she responded by wishing him good luck next year. According to Rell he replied by saying, “I think I’m going to need it.”