Christine Stuart file photo
Gov. M. Jodi Rell (Christine Stuart file photo)

(Updated 9:30 p.m.)When asked about all the things she could and couldn’t do without a budget in place Tuesday Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell mentioned that she couldn’t approve $11 million in federal stimulus funds for summer youth employment.

In a press release Wednesday Rell urged legislative leaders to come back and appropriate the funds so that 5,000 kids will have jobs this summer. “It is essential lawmakers act promptly because thousands of youngsters – many of them disadvantaged and in our largest cities – are counting on these jobs,” Rell said in the press release.

Derek Slap, spokesman for the Senate Democratic caucus said, Democratic lawmakers would be more than willing to come back next week to appropriate these funds.

“The important thing is sending a clear message to workforce investment boards and the vendors that we’re committed to supporting the legislation – which we are,” Slap said. “We appreciate Gov. Rell’s support of this legislation and look forward to working with her administration to get it passed.”

The six-week summer youth program is scheduled to start July 6. To date, the state’s five Workforce Investment Boards have taken more than 9,000 applications to fill between 4,500 and 5,000 slots.

“I am sure you realize in this economy, this program may be the only opportunity for economically disadvantaged youth to be employed this summer,” Rell said in her third letter to legislative leaders on this topic. “If funding is not in place soon, these young people will have to be told their summer jobs will not be there.”

“We also urge quick legislative action on not only approving the release of $ 11 million in one time federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) stimulus funds for the Summer Youth Employment Program, but also both the remaining WIA stimulus funds of approximately $17.5 million and annual WIA funds of $21 million to assist low wage and unemployed adults” Thomas Phillips, President and CEO of Capital Workforce Partners, said Wednesday.  Phillips went to say that “these federal WIA funds are intended to be released quickly to provide important support and workforce development related services to the state’s residents impacted by the current economic recession.”