It was still unclear Monday morning whether the $150 million in new borrowing for a variety of projects including $81.5 million for 38 new rail cars was actually approved by the Bond Commission on Friday.
There were at least four or five items on the agenda that passed with a 5-3 voice vote and questions about whether six votes are necessary was still being debated by lawyers.
“I haven’t heard back yet from our lawyers,” Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Monday morning following the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce meeting in Cromwell.
Asked if she would consider calling a special meeting of the Bond Commission should the lawyers decide the items that passed with a 5-3 vote were not valid, Rell said, “I would consider it yes.”
“If it’s the right thing to do,” Rell added.
Earlier Monday morning Rell made it clear that she wanted investments in public transportation to be part of her legacy.
“Without an efficient and effective transportation system, our economy is – at best – on life support,” Rell said. To that end she touted the purchase of what she hopes will be 380 new M-8 rail cars for Metro-North commuters. The $81.5 million in bonding for 38 cars on Friday was responsible for finishing the purchase.
“In 2005, when I first proposed my transportation initiative, our transportation system was both aging and inadequate,” Rell said. “Today, the first of 380 new red-and-silver M-8s are cruising that line in their final shakedowns.”
Last week two of the Democratic lawmakers on the Bond Commission questioned the wisdom of finishing the rail car purchase and committing the state to more borrowing just weeks before Gov.-elect Dan Malloy takes office.
Rep. Cameron Staples of New Haven said Friday that the deadline to exercise the option to purchase the cars is in 2012. He said the escalator or monthly price, per car that gets added for every month the state decides not to purchase the cars has been there for four years, so waiting one more month won’t do much harm.
“Why today? Well the answer to why today is because I think this administration wants to finish it,” Staples said Friday. “And I understand that I’m not judging that. What I’m saying is that with an $81 million price tag with enormous issues around the budget next year, debt service, bonding issues, transportation fund issues; I’d rather have the new administration have a chance to look at the overall picture.”
As of 4:14 p.m. Monday the Rell administration didn’t have any news to share on whether the votes at the Bond Commission meeting will be upheld or if there‘s a need to call another meeting.