State Treasurer Denise Nappier started walking back statements she made yesterday about a bill signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy which gives new bonding authority to the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority.
In an editorial published by the Journal Inquirer, Nappier, said giving CHEFA new authority to issue bonds for UConn is “unnecessary, costly, and may confuse investors and undermine their confidence in existing UConn 2000 bonds.”
Nappier warned Malloy in a June 7 letter that the expanded authority “cannot be justified based on cost or need.” The Democrat in charge of the state’s borrowing and cash pool went on to say that now is not the time to “increase the cost of borrowing paid by taxpayers.”
Before the legislation was passed, CHEFA issued bonds only for the Connecticut State University System and nonprofit private colleges in the state. Nappier’s office sold bonds backed by UConn. Nappier’s opposition centers around CHEFA’s new ability to issue UConn-backed bonds.
“That the governor chose to ignore my advice will be at his doorstep,” she concluded in the editorial.
However, in a statement Nappier sent out Wednesday said the spirited exchange on the issue “is evidence that reasonable minds can and often disagree.”
“While I stand by the concerns I have raised, our different positions on this issue ought not to take away from the consistent support I have shown for the many significant steps taken by Governor Malloy that have improved our State’s overall fiscal health,” Nappier said.
Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, said the administration has a disagreement with the treasurer’s office on this issue.
“The treasurer thinks somehow this will undermine her authority when it comes to issuing bonds,” Occhiogrosso said. “We don’t think so.”
“We just believe it provides another option, which may or may not be feasible,” he added.
He said some of the rhetoric coming from the treasurer office may just be related to the fact that “change is hard.”
Ben Barnes, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, said the idea behind the legislation was to give the University of Connecticut the ability it needs to grow.
“The governor is anxious to see UConn grow and to have no obstacles in the way as they try to meet the needs of their students,” Barnes said.
It gives Uconn another financing mechanism to meet their needs for dormitory space, he added.
While Nappier and Malloy’s administration may still disagree. Nappier did give the governor credit Wednesday for balancing the state’s budget during one of the most severe downturns in the state’s history.