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Rell Declines Invitation to Washington Governors Meeting
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President Barack Obama addressed the winter meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington Monday.  The topics included health reform, stimulus funding, and the President's plan to improve education.  As WNPR's John Dankosky reports, Governor Rell was one of only six Governors not to attend.

With Connecticut facing criticism for losing out on federal money for transportation projects, Governor Jodi Rell decided not to attend the winter meeting of the NGA.  49 out of 55 Governors did gather - including the Governors of Guam, Puerto Rico and American Samoa.  Her office would not give a reason for the decision, except to cite the state's travel ban for employees. 

"Well, I understand what the Governor is attempting  to do, in saving on travel expenses.  But I think it's penny-wise and pound foolish."

Senator Gary LeBeau co-chairs the State Commerce Committee.

"We have just been frozen out of two rounds of stimulus funds.  So I think the Governor should be a little more active in trying to pursue these funds." 

New York Governor David Paterson was among many state leaders who used the opportunity to press the White House for more federal aid.  Paterson says he wants to get capital flowing to small businesses in his state.

“Construction is usually overflowing in the summer and the real problem is that the companies can’t get money. This is not only a problem with companies around our state, it happens in other states.”

Democratic political consultant Jonathan Pelto says Rell's missing the sort of opportunity that Paterson and others have taken. 

"The irony is that corporations, unions, advocacy groups would spend millions and millions, and millions of dollars to try and get face time with the President and the President's people, and here we have a Governor who is invited and not participating."

President Obama and Governors swapped their new ideas about health care reform.  Association chair, and Vermont Governor Jim Douglas had chosen Rell as part of his task force on the issue. 

The President also called on governors to boost educational standards, as part of his "Race to the Top" reform efforts.  Some state lawmakers have been critical of Connecticut's attempt to get funds from this project.  The reform group ConnCan said Monday that the state handed in an "incomplete application."   

For WNPR, I'm John Dankosky.