Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell seemed poised to unveil her $1.3 billion securitization plan Wednesday as an alternative to the Finance Committee’s proposal to securitize a portion of what consumers pay for electricity.
Earlier this month Rell promised to veto the Finance Committee’s proposal, which her own budget office offered as one of several recommendations to the legislature on Feb. 3. It was a move that outraged the co-chairman of the Finance Committee.
Rell’s office would neither confirm or deny it will release the securitization plan tomorrow, but legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle said they’re expecting it.
Exactly what they will receive still remains a mystery. Sources have been told by Rell’s administration to think “outside the box.” However, sources say Rell will again offer the Clean Energy fund as part of the proposal. It’s still unclear how she will make up the rest of the revenue.
Finance Committee Co-Chairman Rep. Cameron Staples said what he doesn’t want to see is a plan that adds to the state’s debt service without identifying a dedicated revenue stream to pay for it. “That would just compound the budget problem,” Staples said.
The Finance Committee largely followed the recommendations presented in the Feb. 3 securitization report by choosing to continue the charge on consumers’ electricity bills and ignoring the option to raid the Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency funds, which they were told were helping to create jobs.
David Leischman, chairman of the Connecticut Chapter of the Northeast Energy Efficiency Council, has said that the funds maintain 11,814 green jobs in the state. He said diverting any of these funds won’t save the state money and will cost the state jobs.
It’s still unclear exactly what proposal the Rell administration will put forward Wednesday. Some lawmakers don’t even believe Rell should be putting forward an alternative.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney applauded Rell for agreeing to offer an alternative plan, but he said it’s still up to the legislative majority to pass it through the General Assembly. He said Rell fulfilled her obligation by making the recommendations in February.
Just because she threatened to veto it, doesn’t mean she has to offer an alternative, McKinney said. He said he thinks the Democratic majority is afraid to deal with securitization given the public’s reaction to their first option of using a portion of consumers electric bills.
Staples said the option they chose, after exploring several, was one the governor herself put forward.
“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 has said.
“The governor has taken the responsibility to come up with another plan to show true leadership,” McKinney said Tuesday. “The securitization plan was required by the Democratic majority’s budget. It is their responsibility to pass a $1.3 billion securitization plan.”
Staples said that’s absolutely not true. He said when budget negotiations came to a halt last year, Rell offer the securitization plan as an alternative to a more progressive income tax offered by the Democrats. He said the Democratic plan didn’t have securitization or borrowing in it.
McKinney points out that no Republicans voted for the 2009 budget and Rell let it become law without her signature.
“It was not an accident,” that the budget became law last year without her signature, Staples said. He said the deal was negotiated with her administration and had her fingerprints on it even if it did not have her signature.
House Speaker Chris Donovan said it’s very important that Rell offer a securitization plan. He said the legislature’s Democratic majority wants to “work things out,” and right now the $1.3 billion securitization hole is bigger than the $726 million budget hole in 2011.
Sen. President Donald Williams said he would like to see a plan modeled on what the Finance Committee did earlier this month. He said whatever revenue stream Rell chooses, it should not impact the General Fund.
Legislative leaders are expecting to hear about the plan during a 1 p.m. leadership meeting Wednesday.