Is it ‘buyers remorse,’ or have state lawmakers been ‘hoodwinked’ in the deal to bail out the city of Hartford? Most legislative leaders say they did not intend to put state taxpayers ‘on the hook’ to pay the capital city’s half-billion dollars in debt.
Part of that state budget deal that passed back in October included help for the financially strapped city of Hartford but the bailout that has emerged now six months later has most legislative leaders saying: this is not what what we had in mind.
“If legislators today regret that decision to build a long term partnership so that the capital city of Connecticut can be fiscally stable and sound, then they should re-open the conversation of bankruptcy,” said Mayor Luke Bronin (D-Hartford).
Some legislative leaders say the deal for the state to pay off half-billion dollars in bonded debt for the City of Hartford is not what they thought they were voting for back in October. Sen. Martin Looney (D-New Haven), the Democratic Senate President Pro tem saying, “We did not, at the time, assume that it would be the state paying the entire debt for twenty years.” The Republican Senate President Pro tem, Sen. Len Fasano (R-North Haven) saying, “I think the Democratic majority leaders did not understand that the Governor had a different purpose for the language that was in that bill.” And the House Minority Leader, Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby) adding, “We made the decision to give them a two year ‘life line,’ an additional $40 million in a two year budget.”
But the agreement that has emerged from that vote back in October, has the state making those debt payments for the city starting this week and for the next 20 years. Democratic House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, who represents Hartford in the Assembly, appears to be the only one besides Mayor Bronin, with that understanding of the legislation and the deal saying, “The state is paying it, it’s the same thing legally
speaking, the guarantee, the state is making the payment.”
Most lawmakers apparently thought the state was just guaranteeing the payments; like a parent guaranteeing a loan for a son or daughter, with the expectation the son or daughter would make the payments.
The Mayors of New Haven and Bridgeport are also criticizing this bail out for Hartford. Ritter says this help is available to any city as long as they’re willing to be run by the state. West Haven has also applied for this help.