Democrats on the state’s bond commission voted against a plan to build a new public health laboratory in Rocky Hill Tuesday. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.
State public health officials say their Hartford laboratory is in a building that is out of date and in need of major repair. So they’ve spent the better part of five years researching a plan and are ready to build a new, $69 million facility in Rocky Hill.
But Democrats on the state’s bond commission stonewalled the funding Tuesday, voting to block the project and complaining that the process lacked transparency. Democratic State Representative Cameron Staples says that his fellow legislators were unaware the project was moving forward.
“The idea that legislators should know that, A, something’s ever going to get approved or, B, that it’s ready for this month’s agenda and that all their questions should have been addressed by now I think really misrepresents the reality. Which is that this administration refuses to share with the legislature when it’s going to approve anything and if it will approve anything.”
Gov. Jodi Rell said she was disappointed and that the delay in the vote could cost the state an additional $12 million because the state's construction contract ends April 15.
“You know, I’m angry. It’s not leadership on the part of the general assembly. I’m not running for reelection but I am the governor of the state. And we have job to do. And our job right now is to build a new facility, a new lab that has been in the works for five years. Did politics play anything in it? It is an election year.”
Although Democrats said some of their legislators were blind-sided by the agenda item, Rell said it is a legislator's job to stay informed.
"You shouldn’t have to wait to find out to read it in the paper. You are a legislator you are privy to this information. “
Rell also suggested union politics might be an issue at play, but Staples said he was unaware of such a claim.
For WNPR, I’m Jeff Cohen.