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Rell Already Had The Report

by | Mar 4, 2010 8:34am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Environment, State Budget, State Capitol

Five days before Gov. M. Jodi Rell gave her budget address touting green job growth, her administration had a draft report recommending raiding the Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency funds to secure a $1.3 billion stream of revenue.

She didn’t mention that in her farewell budget address.

An email from Rell’s budget director, Robert Genuario to Chief of Staff M. Lisa Moody and Rell herself, shows that the administration had the 11-page draft report Saturday, Jan. 30.

That’s at least five days before Rell said: “Kermit the Frog had it wrong all these years, I’m afraid. It is easy to be green.”

And it was hours before Rell reversed herself and put out the recommendation to redirect $180 million in annual revenues away from the funds. The report was put together with the help of the State Treasurer’s office.

CTNewsJunkie obtained the email in a Freedom of Information request. Click here to read it in full.

“Please find the most recent draft of the securitization report which we received from the treasurer,” Genuario wrote Moody and Rell on Jan. 30. “We are expecting further revisions over the weekend to further clarify it as a list of options as opposed to a specific recommendation.”

Rell’s name in the email was redacted without explanation.

The draft report recommends borrowing against the energy funds and possibly Keno, a lottery-game. The final report also recommends borrowing against tobacco settlement revenue, tolls, and the sale of state assets.

Green job advocates and environmentalists say that taking the Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency funds to secure $1.3 billion is bad public policy. They argue the state would be diverting a portion of everyone’s electrical bill to cover the state’s budget deficit instead of dedicating that money to energy efficiency and weatherization efforts—an area where green jobs are being created.

Jeffrey Beckham, spokesman for Rell’s budget office, said Wednesday that tough decisions need to be made in order to close the budget deficit. The legislature asked Rell’s administration to identify a $1.3 billion revenue stream in last year’s budget.

David Leischman, chairman of the Connecticut Chapter of the Northeast Energy Efficiency Council, said Wednesday that currently the funds maintain 11,814 green jobs in the state. He said diverting any of these funds won’t save the state money and will cost the state jobs.

When asked if he was surprised Rell’s administration would talk about green job creation before making a recommendation to take away one of its funding streams, House Speaker Chris Donovan said “No.

The state needs to protect these jobs and seize on the opportunity to create more, Donovan said. “We need to jump in with both feet.”

“It’s not shocking, it’s just par for the course with this administration,” Chris Phelps, executive director of Environment Connecticut, said Wednesday. “The sad part is that something like this should be shocking.”

“I’m dumbfounded,” Phelps said. “It’s a rather transparent attempt to avoid bad publicity.”

Beckham said the report recommending which revenue streams that state should use to come up with $1.3 billion was due Feb. 3.

And that’s when it was released, hours after Rell’s budget address when all the cameras were off.

The administration was going back and forth over the cover letter and how the report would be presented, Beckham said Wednesday.

“Those resources are public ratepayer funds and it’s our job to balance the budget,” Beckham said. He said securitizing the Clean Energy Fund, Energy Efficiency Fund, and possibly the lottery-game of Keno are all options at this point. He said the administration isn’t proposing this as an option because it thinks it’s a lousy program and doesn’t support it, but it’s one of the options it needs to consider to close the budget deficit.

“Government’s gotta walk and chew gum at the same time,” Beckham said.

Raiding the two energy funds “sends the wrong message about energy conservation and green job growth,” Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, has said.

Daily, who chairs the committee responsible for approving the $1.3 billion revenue stream, said the legislature will have to make a decision by April 17.

But there’s still a question about whether the state can take the revenue in the Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency funds.

Leischman contends that because the state received federal stimulus dollars, it can’t take any money away from those two funds without forfeiting a large amount of it back to the federal government. He said the state can’t securitize those funds for two years.

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Comments

(6) Archived Comments

posted by: Black Skip | March 4, 2010  10:29am

Wow, I am so shocked! Aren’t you?

posted by: Martha H | March 4, 2010  11:25am

Martha H

“Jeffrey Beckham, spokesman for Rell’s budget office, said Wednesday that tough decisions need to be made in order to close the budget deficit.”

A truly honorable man, Beckham then announced that he was eliminating his own position—and shifting the savings to an underfunded state program feeding the state’s hungry children.  “If I don’t spin, the children win,” he declared.

Cynical, shocked reporters gave Beckham a standing ovation….

Only in Connecticut!

posted by: Christine Stuart | March 4, 2010  11:42am

Christine Stuart

Martha H is kidding in case anyone misunderstood her sense of humor.

posted by: Martha H | March 4, 2010  12:19pm

Martha H

Yes….

When I wrote that Beckham said, “Tough decisions need to made…” —that was obviously sarcasm on my part.  {What ELSE could it be??}

posted by: ctenvheadlines | March 4, 2010  7:21pm

Rell knows she should raid a tax not a public fund. The energy funds discussed are funded by the people. They’re not considered a tax. But, she might be doing a good job of diverting our attention from something else. I wonder what that could be.

posted by: richsobi | March 5, 2010  9:57am

To securitize $1.3 billion is going to take more than just the C&LM; and Renewable Energy Fund money.  The combined annual money electric ratepayers pay to those funds is less than $130 million annually.  To get fund the principal and interest payment on a $1.3 billion bond, you would have to extinguish those two funds for 15-20 years. 

What the Gov’s office and OPM are talking about is not just securitizing the fund, but adding a new surcharge on your electric bill.  The CTA line item is basically going away on CL&P’s customers bills effective 1/1/11, so my sources tell me that the Gov’s people are trying to tap into that $200 + million line item on CL&P’s bills.  While CL&P serves about 70-75% of the Stae, what happens to customers of UI or CMEEC (municipal electric coooperative towns include Wallingford, Norwalk, Groton, Norwich, Bozrah)?No matter how you slice it it’s a hidden form of taxation. Using utility bills as a hidden form of taxation drives me nuts.

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