Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hey, everyone else is getting bailed out, why not Connecticut?

Gov. M. Jodi Rell has submitted the following testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. Congress. The Committee held a hearing today, and lawmakers are considering a new economic stimulus package that could be voted on after the Nov. 4 election.

October 29, 2008

The Honorable Charles B. Rangel
Chairman, Ways & Means Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
1102 Longworth House Office Building
Washington , D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Rangel:

As you know, all across our nation states are caught between the rock of budget shortfalls and the hard place of increased demand for services. States – almost all of which are constitutionally or statutorily required to have balanced budgets – are seeing revenues fall dramatically and economic activity slow even as they and their municipalities face increased difficulty in borrowing.

Ordinary Americans are seeing companies to which they have given years of dedicated service make sweeping layoffs in response to precipitous declines in stock price and staggering investment losses. Others – especially senior citizens and workers approaching retirement age – are simply too terrified to even open the statements from their retirement or savings accounts because of the wild Wall Street rollercoaster.

As your Committee meets today, I call upon the panel to approve a national economic stimulus package geared toward the states. This package should include grants-in-aid that could be used for a wide range of activities, from replenishing unemployment insurance accounts, making increased credit available to small business and providing enhanced job training services to new infrastructure projects, “green collar” job programs and other pro-growth, job-creating initiatives.

Additionally, Congress should relieve the unremitting pressure that skyrocketing health care costs are placing on states. As in previous economic crises, Congress should temporarily increase the federal contribution to Medicaid. Connecticut ’s non-profit providers, for example, cannot keep pace with the rising costs and are looking to the state for assistance even as Connecticut ’s personal income and sales tax revenues decline.

I also believe such a stimulus package should give maximum flexibility to the states, rather than imposing a top-down, one-size solution. State governments will be able to target specific industries and business sectors for assistance now and make investments that will position them to succeed when the inevitable economic upturn arrives.

Mr. Chairman, I know you agree that it is time for Congress to help the states. But more than that, it is time to put the “Help Wanted” signs back where they belong – on storefronts, office buildings, construction sites, factories, schools and hospitals.

I appreciate the work of your Committee on this issue. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if I can be of any further assistance.


M. Jodi Rell



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