Greenwich Delegation Blasts Democrats for Choosing Pork-Barrel Spending over Education

September 3, 2009

Call for Immediate Restoration of State Funding to Pay for Hamilton Avenue School Improvements

Hartford, CT – State Senator L. Scott Frantz (R-36), State Representative Livvy Floren (R-149) and State Representative Fred Camillo (R-151), today challenged the Democratic majority’s decision to include $8 million in pork-barrel spending in their budget while simultaneously freezing the payment of school construction grants. The budget achieves $7.8 million in savings in debt service costs by putting a 1 year moratorium on previously approved and scheduled school construction projects.

“When we are in the throes of the most severe economic crisis in our state’s history, it is reprehensible to see new, pork-barrel style spending included in the budget,” said Senator Frantz. “The fact that it came at the expense of funding for our schools is unacceptable. Earlier this week Governor Rell was able to trim $8 million in fat from the budget by using her line-item veto authority. That money should be put directly and immediately toward freeing up these school construction grants.”

The delegation is particularly concerned about the status of funding for the Hamilton Avenue School. The town of Greenwich had originally been approved to receive just over $4.8 million to offset the cost of upgrades and improvements at Hamilton Avenue. But because of increased project costs, the town had then asked for additional money totaling more than $1 million. That amount is currently being held up by the freeze on school construction grants.

Rep. Floren said, “Hamilton Avenue School is a project completed to specifications and with the stipulation of reimbursement. This changes the rules of the game after the whistle has blown.”

“To pull a stunt like this at this late stage, or at any time for that matter, is beyond the pale. Moreover, to replace the appropriation with pork projects for targeted areas in the state is partisan politics at its worst. I call on the legislature to restore these funds that were rightly appropriated for the Hamilton Ave. project,” added Rep. Camillo.

According to a November 2008 memo (attached) from the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA), placing a moratorium on school construction grants from July 1st, 2009 to June 30th, 2010 would decrease the cost of debt service by $7.8 million. The savings are also listed as a line-item on a spreadsheet Democrats released to their members prior to the budget vote (attached). The moratorium means that towns cannot expect any state matching funds for school construction projects scheduled to take place through June 30th 2010. The projects set to receive matching funds were listed in SB 1111: An Act Concerning Authorization of State Grant Commitments for School Building Projects and Concerning Changes to the Statutes Concerning School Building Projects (attached) which allocates hundreds of millions of dollars in school construction projects. SB 1111 was never called for a vote in the 2009 session.