RELL’S VETO PEN STRIKES DOWN ELECTRIC RATE REFORM BILL & KILLS HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESS

Governor Jodi Rell did her best to leave her mark as she enters her final months as the state’s chief executive by wielding a veto pen that struck a comprehensive electric rate reform bill as well as a bill that would have helped small business. Proponents of these bills, as expected, cried foul.

The bill was designed to achieve a 15 % drop in electricity rates, set goals for expanding solar powers, reorganize the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) and impose new regulations on retailers.

“The legislation, as well-intentioned as it is, would likely result in higher utility bills for consumers and, at time when taxpayers simply cannot afford bigger government, creates another state bureaucracy,” Rell said in a press release.

The goal of reducing electricity rates by 15 % is an “unproven” claim, Rell said. “The bill does not specify how the reduction is to be achieved or which component of the rates will be reduced.” But critics point out that Rell often supports targeted and “unproven” savings such as the floated idea of selling Bradley Airport.

Rell apparently also objected to what she saw as a lack of input by the parties concerned—including the Republicans. This is the same governor who did a budget deal with legislative majority Democrats without the participation of Republicans.

Not surprisingly, the two Democrats running for governor criticized the governor’s veto.

Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, the party’s endorsed candidate for governor, told the New Haven Register Rell’s veto was “a mistake, plain and simple…The rates paid by Connecticut industries are nearly double the national average,” he said.

Ned Lamont, gearing up for a primary against Malloy, said the bill is not just about electric rates. “This was more than an energy bill, it was a jobs bill…The Governor’s decision to veto it was shortsighted, and it comes shortly after her gimmick-laden budget raided the Connecticut energy conservation fund. In less than a month, our Governor has twice thwarted Connecticut’s ability to compete in the fast-growing green energy economy.” As mentioned above, Gov. Rell struck the budget deal with majority Democrats in the legislature.

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Earlier, Rell vetoed a bill designed to help 46,000 small businesses in the state by eliminating the business entity tax. The bill, spearheaded impressively by Senate President Don Williams, would have suspended the tax for two years for businesses with at least one employee and a net income of less than $50,000. “Small businesses account for the vast majority of new jobs in Connecticut and this initiative would have offered help where it is needed most,” Williams said.

The break for small business would have been paid for with a tax on the ridiculous bonuses received by executives of corporations receiving Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP money, from the government. “Our plan to compensate for the tax cut by implementing a temporary surcharge on large Wall Street bank bonuses was fair and legally sound. Unfortunately, Republicans have been determined to protect these Wall Street bonuses — their legal argument is simply a smoke screen,” Williams said.

The governor said the bill would have created an instant budget deficit she could not go along with. She also questioned the legality of taxing one particular group of people. Is this fiscal responsibility or once again protecting the wealthy?

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Coming off a very impressive weekend as CT-N’s elections coordinator running the fine cable coverage of the two conventions, well-known TV and radio personality Diane Smith has won yet another Emmy. “Living Modern in Connecticut” has been honored with a Boston/New England Emmy award in the category of Historical/Cultural Program.

In the half-hour documentary, host and producer Diane Smith tells the story of notable buildings, erected in the middle of the Twentieth Century. They range from the Glass House in New Canaan, to the Phoenix Companies’ “boat building” in Hartford, to a hockey rink shaped like a whale in New Haven, and a “floating tower” on Long Wharf.

Smith, a past Emmy Award winner and a Hanging Shad favorite, has been on the air in Connecticut since 1982. For ten years, she produced and hosted “Positively Connecticut” on CPTV as well as the “Pos Conn” segment on CPTV’s “All Things Connecticut” magazine series. Her fifth book Seasons of Connecticut will be published in June.