When budget negotiations broke down last May, Gov. M. Jodi Rell responded by presenting a plan to securitize the game of Keno. Almost a year later Rell is criticizing the Finance Committee’s decision to securitize a portion of what consumers pay for electricity.
“The Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee’s proposal to securitize revenue from charges on consumers’ electric bills is not the solution I would pursue,” Rell said Tuesday in a press release. “This option, however, is the least desirable for Connecticut’s beleaguered families.“
Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, and Rep. Cameron Staples, D-New Haven, said Rell’s response to the concept of securitization is “disingenuous.”
“Frankly we think it’s insulting to all the members of the Finance Committee who voted to approve her plan for securitization,“ Staples said Wednesday. He said Democratic leaders don’t like the concept of securitization either, but it was a means to an end in reaching a budget deal with Rell last year.
“For her to politicize that at every turn makes you question whether it’s ever worth listening to a proposal that she makes because she’s likely to turn around and denounce her own proposal,” Staples said.
Rell did admit that some securitization is necessary to balance the budget. And securitizing consumers’ electricity bills was at the top of the list of recommendations her budget office put together with the Office of the State Treasurer.
Daily said Rell tried to “disown” her own proposal at a time when the state needs “strong leadership.”
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said it’s the Democratic majority that’s running away from its responsibility. He said the budget the state is living under right now is a budget that was written by and passed by the Democrats.
He reminded people that not one Republican, including the governor, signed onto the current budget, which includes the securitization requirement.
“They clearly are doing everything they can to distance themselves from the responsibility they took on when they passed a partisan budget,” McKinney said.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said securitization was in everyone’s budget last year, but the Republican plans that included it also included spending cuts and no tax increases.
Cafero said securitizaation can’t be looked at in a vacuum. He said he was not in favor of any budget proposal that raised taxes, but the Republican budget did include securitization, just not as much as the Democratic budget.
When asked if Rell was going to respond to Staples and Daily on Wednesday, Rell’s office said McKinney would be responding. McKinney said he called Rell’s office for a clarification of her press release Tuesday and decided to come up to the Capitol press room to respond. He denied that he was there at Rell’s request.
“I’m sure she doesn’t want me here reminding people that she should have vetoed a bad budget,” McKinney said. “I’m here because I will not allow, and Republicans in this legislature will not allow, Democratic leaders to run away from their responsibility under their budget.”
“People in this building want everyone in the state to suffer from amnesia,” McKinney said. “They don’t want you to focus on what they did five months ago, or six months ago, or a year ago.”
Almost three months ago Rell’s budget office sent her a copy of the draft securitization recommendations. Based on our Freedom of Information Act request, the Rell administration handed over these documents, which show just two recommendations for securitization. The first is securitizing a portion of consumers’ electric bills and the second is Keno. When the final draft was released Feb. 3 there were four additional options added.