Leaders from across the political spectrum have spoken in favor of more regional partnerships in Connecticut. Now it's up to a legislative committee to weigh different proposals on how to make that happen, and how to pay for it.
More than a dozen bills that aim to increase regional cooperation are pending before the Planning and Development committee, including one recommended by Governor Rell.
Her budget proposes 50 million new dollars for regional incentive grants, but eliminates a million dollars in funding for the state's 15 regional planning organizations.
At a public hearing, Mary Glassman said she's concerned about that approach. She is the First Selectman of Simsbury, and an outspoken advocate for more regional cooperation.
"Gutting the very regional structure that exists in our state at a time when we're promoting a regional government doesn't really make a lot of sense."
Governor Rell defends her proposal. In an interview with WSHU public radio last month, she said her budget recommends the most money ever for the cause of regionalization, and the proposed cuts are designed to cut through an extra administrative layer.
"The regional planning agencies really have become more of a red tape, I don't even want to say, bureaucracy. It hinders what towns can do on their own."
A package of bills advocated by Democratic lawmakers and the legislature's Smart Growth Working Group takes the opposite approach. Those bills actually increase the authority of regional planning agencies.