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Monday, November 29, 2010

Rell: I Won’t Cut Rail Funding

UPDATE Gov. M. Jodi Rell, with five weeks to go in her term, today sought to put an end to a Thanksgiving eve controversy that made it appear she was suggesting massive cuts to rail commuter service.WestportNow.com Image
M. Jodi Rell: “I can understand the confusion.” Dave Matlow/WN file photo

“I can understand the confusion and questions that people have so let me be quite clear: I do not and will not support cuts to the Metro-North branch lines – Danbury, Waterbury or New Canaan,” she said in a statement.

“In fact, no one has made more of a commitment to commuter rail than I have and I will continue to forcefully advocate for rail until I leave office in January.”

Rell explained that a list of $38 million in potential cuts prepared by the Office of Policy and Management was issued last week as a menu of options for the legislature to consider as a way to fill a funding hole in the winter home heating assistance program for seniors and low-income families.

Included in that list was $5.5 million to be saved by eliminating commuter rail service to Danbury, New Canaan and Waterbury and by canceling expanded service on the Shoreline East line.

“In hindsight, I can see how inclusion of this item on the list sent the wrong message,” she said.

To leave no question about her position, the governor added: “Let me reiterate that the suggested rail cuts are not cuts that I approve or will support. The legislature has to own up to its responsibility to find funding for the home heating assistance program.

“I am determined that no one will go without heat this season. As governor, I stand ready to work with the legislature.”

Besides the controversial rail service cutbacks, the administration also suggested reductions to municipal aid and other popular programs involving early childhood education, tourism and economic development, environmental protection and mileage and other expense reimbursements for lawmakers, judges and Executive Branch staff.

Rell’s office had no immediate comment on why the rail suggestion was forwarded to the Appropriations Committee, given the governor’s opposition, or whether Rell objects to any other reductions on the list.

Ctmirror.org contributed to this report

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Posted 11/29/10 at 05:41 PM  Permalink



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