Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy didn’t hold back his feelings Wednesday about Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly’s decision to raid the energy conservation fund in order to balance the 2011 state budget.
“You can’t cut conservation funds by $30 million and still expect to meet aggressive standards with respect to efficiency,” Malloy said criticizing the decision to borrow close to $1 billion and pay it back over eight years with conservation funds paid for by Connecticut ratepayers.
He said if he was governor he would not have agreed to use ratepayer funds to balance the budget, however, the state is now stuck paying back those bonds over the next eight years with that fund.
Asked if he would attempt to find an alternative way to balance the budget starting in January 2011, Malloy said “as I understand it a condition of the bonds is that fee, so I don’t think I’d have the power to do it.”
“I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it if I had the power,” he added.
As far as the controversial, omnibus energy bill, which Rell vetoed, Malloy said there’s enough blame to go around on the bill, which came about during the last week of the legislative session.
“The governor would blame the legislature. I blame them both. Where was the governor’s leadership on this issue?,” Malloy said. “When it comes to energy policy this is a governor whose been more interested in playing the politics of it than driving the cost of energy down. I blame the governor as well as the making of sausage.”
He said he understands Rell’s criticism of the timing of the bill, which aims to create 300 megawatts of solar power. “Then, therefore, it should have been incumbent upon her to say we want to get to 300 but we want to go a little slower,” Malloy said.
“I think her veto was one of scale,” Malloy said “I think an appropriate leadership model would have effected that scale.”
Malloy’s energy plan on his campaign Web site says he would support reducing electricity rates by 15 percent, a goal included in the energy legislation Rell vetoed.
In her veto message Rell said the goal of reducing electricity rates by 15 percent is an “unproven” claim. “The bill does not specify how the reduction is to be achieved or which component of the rates will be reduced,” Rell wrote in her veto message.
But Malloy remained optimistic saying several times he believes it’s a goal the state can achieve.
Malloy’s energy plan also touts a proposal to increase the use of renewable energy sources 20 percent by 2020.
The legislature and Rell approved legislation in 2007 that already meets that goal.
“It’s a mistake – we forgot it had been signed into law,“ Malloy said after Wednesday’s press conference. “I know some in the oil industry have been fighting to roll it back, and I also believe insufficient steps have been taken by the state to insure that the requirement will be met. I’m glad it will be in place when I’m Governor, and I’ll fight to keep it in place.”
Malloy’s Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, hasn’t held a press conference to announce his energy plan, but he addresses the issue on his Web site.
Malloy supporters say it’s not his understanding of load consumption and megawatts, but his leadership style.
“What we’re talking about here is a leadership style,” Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D-New Britain, said. “We have tens of millions of dollars allocated for these very purposes. Energy conservation, renewable energy, grants to residential homeowners for energy conservation and renewable energy sources going back to 200. These funds have been authorized but we have not had the executive leadership to move these funds out.”
“We need a governor who gets it,” Rep. Tim O’Brien, D-New Britain, said. “Not everybody’s going to agree on everything. It’s the job of the governor to pull everybody together and put together a strong policy for the future of the state.”