Rell’s last bond agenda has $250,000 for a hometown playground

At Gov. M.Jodi Rell’s last scheduled meeting of the Bond Commission today, she played a role in sending out plenty of goodies before the holidays, including $250,000 to renovate a playground in her hometown of Brookfield.

“I was actually one of the original parents that helped to build that playground,” Rell said. “So it is kind of obsolete, and they want to make it handicap-accessible.”

The approval of borrowing for local projects that might be considered pork-barrel spending comes as lawmakers, belatedly, in many cases, are grumbling about the state’s overused credit card.

Connecticut, which owes $7,886 for every man, woman and child in the state, ranks fourth in overall per capita debt, and first in per capita debt that is being paid off with state tax dollars.

But Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, was the only member of the commission to vote against every item on the agenda.

Two Democrats, Rep. Cameron Staples of New Haven and Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook, joined him in voting against borrowing of $81.5 million for 38 self-propelled commuter rail cars, the last part of an order of 380 cars.

Staples said the purchase should be delayed until next month, after Gov.-elect Dan Malloy takes office, but Rell said the approval today would lock in a price and save the state money.

The savings could reach $1 million, Staples said.

Rell said she has told Malloy of the the purchase, and he did not ask for a delay.

“He said, ‘Do what you think is best,’ ” Rell said.

But Malloy may yet get a chance to review the purchase. After the commission meeting, lawyers advised Rell that the the rail cars and several other items failed to attract the requisite six votes for passage.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Comptroller Nancy Wyman were absent and did not send anyone in their place. With only eight of 10 members present and at least three members voting no on some items, another vote will be required.

All the votes were taken by voice, leaving some confusion as to the actual count on many items. Lawyers still were sorting things out late today.

Rell Bond Commission

Gov. M. Jodi Rell after her last bond meeting.