Gov. Dannel P. Malloy thought he had caught Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, in a flip-flop on earmarks at Friday’s state Bond Commission meeting, but Rorback said that his voting record is consistent with his principles.
Roraback voted against $50,000 in funding to help the Chatham Historical Society repair its roof, but he voted for spending $243,410 on fire safety and environmental repairs for the Department of Developmental Services Northwest Center in Torrington, a town he represents.
Malloy didn’t see the difference, aside from the fact that one item was in his district while the other wasn’t.
“I try very hard to bring some degree of care to my work, and for the governor to think that he was going to trap me in a contradiction I think he sold me short,” Roraback said.
Rorback said he supports capital improvements for state projects which is what the repairs for the Torrington facility were, but he opposes earmarks which he defines as “clearly a favor for a legislator.”
He called the improvements to DDS an “investment” in a state facility. He said he didn’t ask for it and doesn’t believe any legislator asked for it because it came up in the normal course of meeting the capital investment needs of the state “which is what the Bond Commission is supposed to do.
“In good times, we can abide favors for legislators and they’re not bad projects, but it’s just not a process that builds public confidence,” Roraback said.
He said there’s a competitive STEAP grant process where the requests come through the towns and the projects are evaluated by the Office of Policy and Management. Roraback said he supports that process.
“These earmarks are an end run around a process that we have in place to handle municipal priorities,” Roraback said.
Asked at a press conference following the Bond Commission meeting if he would consider reducing the amount of earmarks, Malloy replied “I don’t serve in the legislature.”
But Malloy as governor signs the bills which include the earmarks.
“You know and I know how those bills come. They come in pretty big packages,” Malloy said. “I think there’s an appropriate role for the legislature to play in deciding how some amount of capital expenditures will be made.”
“I will remind you John Adams while he served in government argued for earmarks, specifically to build a lighthouse. John wasn’t a bad guy,” Malloy said.