Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell dismissed her critics Tuesday saying her administration has done everything it can to secure federal stimulus funds.
“We’ve certainly tried to apply for everything that’s available,” Rell said Tuesday outside Keigwin Middle School in Middletown.
She said there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what Connecticut is doing in trying to secure these funds.
For example the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now put out a press release Monday pointing out that the state left 120 questions on its application for federal school reform funding blank.
“It’s as if Connecticut were a high school student applying to college with a transcript full of incompletes,” Alex Johnston, ConnCAN’s CEO, said in a press release criticizing the state’s application.
Rell said state officials speak with officials in Washington D.C. before submitting their applications. The state was told “if you can’t put in a baseline there—they tell every state the same thing—then leave it blank,” Rell said.
She said federal officials have told the state it will not be penalized for leaving spaces blank.
As far as the transportation funding is concerned Rell said there were $60 billion in requests made for just $1.5 billion.
“We’ve made our request, and there’s going to be another round we’ll certainly be in there for that as well,” Rell said.
When asked if attending the National Governors Association meeting may have helped the state secure some of these federal funds, Rell said, the governors have already told President Obama’s administration what they want: Medicaid reimbursement and school funds.
“That has already been secured. It’s already part of the stimulus package,“ Rell said. “What we have concentrated on as governor’s we have already addressed. The rest of it we’re still working on it and still applying for grants like every other state.”
“My priority as I said was to be here in Connecticut,” Rell said. “Besides that frankly we have five U.S. Congressmen and women, two U.S. Senators, all Democrats and a Democrat president and they represent us very in Washington right now.”
Forty-nine out of 55 governors, including the Governors of Guam, Puerto Rico and American Samoa, gathered at the White House Monday for a closed-door meeting with President Obama.
Meanwhile Rell stayed in Connecticut and met with the legislative leadership and talked about ways to compromise on a jobs package.
Rell took job creation and job growth ideas from each of the four caucuses and asked them to find common ground.
“I hope to hear from them by the end of the week and hopefully we can push something through the legislature in the next week or so,” Rell said.
House Speaker Chris Donovan and Senate President Donald Williams said they were encouraged by Rell’s suggestions regarding job creation and job growth.
However, Williams said he is concerned about her performance in obtaining federal stimulus dollars.
“Congress in its infinite wisdom decided to run the stimulus program through the governor’s office, instead of the legislature and we have significant concerns as to whether we’re getting our fair share,” Williams said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
Both Williams and Donovan weren’t concerned that Rell skipped the National Governors Association meeting in Washington D.C. Monday, but they did say they were disappointed that the clock has run on some of the federal stimulus awards.
“Getting the federal dollars has been helping us out and it seems as though there’s money out there,” Donovan said. “We continue to hear about other states getting money and we want to make sure Connecticut gets its fair share.”
Click here to read the state’s stimulus report.