Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Governor Rell Signs Energy Bill

Governor Rell Signs Energy Bill But Strikes

Two Appropriations Sections Using Line-Item Veto

Governor Says Eliminated Sections Violate Constitutional Spending Cap

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced she is signing into law House Bill 7432, An Act Concerning Electricity and Energy Efficiency, but will exercise her line-item veto to remove two sections making appropriations that are not permitted by law.

Specifically, Governor Rell said she was using the line-item veto – granted under Article IV, Section 16 of the Connecticut Constitution – to remove Sections 126 and 128 of the bill. Both sections make appropriations in the current fiscal year that would push state spending well above the limit set by the constitutional spending cap. In addition, the Governor said, it is unwise public policy to make such large appropriations on a bill-by-bill basis, especially without a comprehensive budget agreement for the next two years.

“While House Bill 7432 does little to offer immediate relief to the struggling ratepayers of Connecticut, it will make a number of substantial and beneficial changes to our long-term energy policy,” Governor Rell said. “The sections I have vetoed would appropriate $100 million in the current fiscal year – more than enough to push state spending this year well over the cap. Under law, exceeding the cap requires a declaration of fiscal emergency by the Governor – a declaration that I was not asked to sign and that I am not willing to issue at this time, especially since the bill brings no immediate or emergency relief to ratepayers.

“There are also a number of nettlesome provisions and drafting errors in the bill that cause me concern,” the Governor said. “Some deal with how bond money is distributed among state agencies; others deal with oversight of energy projects and sales tax exemption drafting errors. I want to note these reservations and encourage the Legislature to deal with them in separate legislation during the remaining days of the session. But it has taken two years to develop and pass this legislation and I have no desire to veto the entire bill because of these problem areas.”

Section 126 would have appropriated $95 million to buy back bonds and help restore the funding balances in the Renewable Energy Investment and the Energy Conservation and Load Management funds. Both funds have been tapped in the past to help balance state budgets, depleting the balances in both accounts.

“Replenishing these funds is a worthy goal, and in fact I recommended doing so in my February 7 budget,” Governor Rell said. “But it cannot be done through the means contained in this bill.”

Section 128 would have appropriated $2.5 million for a one-time program to help people who have high outstanding utility bill balances pay off those debts. The section would also have appropriated a total of $2.5 million to help fund and expand Operation Fuel Inc.

“While I am a long-time supporter of Operation Fuel and believe the goals of the bill are laudable, here again the method is unacceptable,” the Governor said. “These goals should be achieved in the framework of an overall budget agreement that spells out the handling of the current year’s surplus and the spending plan for the next two years.”

Among the remaining issues Governor Rell would like to see addressed are provisions in Sections 10 and 78 that would make the Institute for Sustainable Energy responsible for setting a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) exemption applicable to state and commercial buildings. That decision should be made by the Executive Branch rather than an academic institution, the Governor said.

Other provisions that need attention, the Governor said, include sections that allocate bond funds to the Department of Public Utility Control rather than the Office of Policy and Management; the creation in Section 101 of an unnecessarily cumbersome process for undertaking energy projects in state buildings; and effective dates for sales tax exemptions that should be July 1 rather than June 1.

“I am very hopeful that the General Assembly will be willing to work with my Administration to address the remaining concerns about this well-intentioned legislation,” Governor Rell said. “That is why, in addition to sending my signing message to the Secretary of the State, I am writing to all members of the General Assembly explaining my actions and calling on them to do just that before the session ends on Wednesday.”

1 comment:

  1. The energy crisis has never been before this much worse. Several talks had been made in the past decade about energy conservation.

    Dozens of research had been funded for the development of energy efficient household devices. But no matter how efficient those gadgets are they still consume power. The best solution is self discpline. We must how to limit our usage of appliances and be able to turn off unused lights and other electrical equipments.

    Hybrid Cars
    Alternative Fuels


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