U.S. Rep. John B. Larson refused to settle the debate between the legislature’s Democratic majority and Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell over how aggressively the state pursues federal stimulus funds.
Last week during his visit to the Legislative Office Building to tout $10 million in federal funds for 17 Hartford programs Larson was careful not to take sides in the ongoing debate.
“Thus far we have sent an awful lot of money,“ Larson said last Tuesday. “In fact a lot of our mayors and municipalities would argue to send the money directly to them as opposed to going through the states.”
For at least the last month the legislature’s Democratic majority has been claiming the Rell administration has failed to secure $500 million in federal stimulus funds. Rell’s administration has said that’s not true and that the state has applied for more than $8 billion in federal stimulus funds.
Larson said he hears from municipalities who have complained the state hasn’t let out all the stimulus funds it has received.
“The state hasn’t let out all the money that’s been sent by the federal government,” Larson said. “It’s incumbent upon the legislature and the governor to continue to work together, especially in these difficult times, to get the money out that the federal government has sent already. And then as we go forward we are very mindful of the needs of both the state and our municipal governments and the Congress will look and see whose getting that money out the door.”
House Speaker Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, sent out a press release shortly after Larson’s press conference Tuesday thanking him and the rest of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation for “stepping up for Connecticut at a time when the Rell Administration is failing to maximize federal funding opportunities for our state.”
But Larson continued to stay above the fray.
“I haven’t scrutinized the state budget and I’m not involved in the debate between the governor and the legislature. All I’m saying is that there is money we have sent and we’re told it hasn’t been let out,” Larson said. “We hear from the municipalities. We know in a number of areas money hasn’t been sent out.”
At the end of the day, it’s a matter for the General Assembly and the governor to take up, Larson said.
When asked last week for more proof that Rell’s administration has left federal funding on the table Donovan said that “As soon as we get information, we’re going to get it for you.”
Rell’s Budget Chief Robert Genuario, said last week that for Democrats to make this charge, without providing details is irresponsible and simply “is not true.”
“The administration has been extremely aggressive at going after not only federal stimulus money, but a variety of other programs,” Genuario said.
“The numbers that are being tossed around really aren’t based in any reality, and it’s just made worse when the tossers don’t give any back-up,” he said.