HARTFORD, CT — Republican lawmakers may be in control of the transportation narrative, but they say they’ve been left out completely when it comes to the 2020 bond package.
“You have stated repeatedly that you believe in transparency and you want bipartisanship in Connecticut,” Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano and Deputy Republican Leader Kevin Witkos wrote Gov. Ned Lamont earlier this month. “Yet only one party is being included in this very important discussion about bonding. Republicans find ourselves asking, for at least the third time, for drafts of the bonding package in the works that you continue to say is nearly complete. “
Nothing beyond the numbers that were reported in July when Democratic legislative leaders and the Lamont administration were $100 million apart have been disclosed.
“Either you need to deliver these documents to us as the Republican leaders of the Senate and leaders of a caucus that will eventually be voting on this package, or you need to explain precisely why you are hiding this information from the lawmakers who will be voting on it,” Fasano and Witkos wrote.
There’s been no special session scheduled to vote on a 2020 bond package or any other unfinished business from the session that adjourned on June 5.
“We know that drafts have been exchanged by you and Democrat legislative leaders, as the OPM Secretary confirmed as far back as July. We know that you are now only $100 million apart as has been reported repeatedly. Why won’t you let Republican leaders know where the bonding that you have agreed to will be going? For all your talk about transparency and having an open door policy, we are not seeing that in action.”
Max Reiss, Lamont’s communications director, said there’s nothing the Republicans don’t already know.
He said nothing has changed since the end of July and there’s no document the Republicans don’t already have.
Lamont has said repeatedly what the bond package looks like will depend largely on how much they have to borrow to make sure Connecticut’s ability to get from point A to point B is greatly improved.
“Once we have agreed on how to move forward with transportation and can assess how that impacts our total amount of authorizations, we will then be able to discuss the specifics of what is included in those authorizations,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw said in an Oct. 10 reply to Fasano and Witkos. “And, as Governor Lamont states last month at the State Bond Commission, he intends to include everyone in the negotiations once we reach that point.”
Those negotiations hinge on Republican support and Republicans have been invited to participate in those discussions.
Republican lawmakers are still weighing the information shared by Lamont’s office.
Bits and pieces of the new 10-year transportation improvement program being called CT2030 have been shared with lawmakers. Lamont has yet to formally make the proposal.
Democrats and Lamont need Republican support for the plan in the state Senate because the legislature’s Democratic majority has said they’re only interested in voting on something that has bipartisan support.
Late last week Fasano said he was still weighing the proposal and would likely need more information from the administration before making a decision.
Fasano and Witkos were not happy with McCaw’s response regarding information on bonding.
“How can we then work with you on transportation and any other matter when we know that you will withhold information from us when you believe we shouldn’t know about it? If you can’t fully disclose information we can never have an effective working relationship, because you want to keep us in the dark, for whatever reason, while fully disclosing information to Democrats,” Fasano and Witkos wrote. “If I can never be sure that my caucus is getting the real story and full details from the governor’s administration that creates an unworkable process. In all my years as a lawmaker I cannot recall a time in which I have ever faced such an inescapable conclusion that OPM is being less than forthright with members of the legislature.”