It’s time for state government and the news media to move beyond the recent flap over low-digit license plates — and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration could help with this by apologizing for the illegal release of plate-holders’ names, the legislature’s top House Republican said Wednesday.

Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero of Norwalk also tried to lighten the issue by disclosing that while he didn’t receive a low-digit license plate from former Gov. M. Jodi Rell before she left office on Jan. 5, he did receive a plate of another sort — a blue and white china plate bearing a sketch of the state Capitol.

“I don’t think any heads should roll,” Cafero told reporters in the Capitol press room. “What do we teach our kids? You make a mistake, you say you’re sorry, it won’t happen again. Let’s move on.”

The “mistake” Cafero was referring to was the Malloy administration’s granting of a request from Courant columnist Kevin Rennie for a list of plate recipients. That information is exempt from disclosure under the state’s Freedom of Information statutes.

Malloy said Tuesday that those who feel their privacy was violated could return their low-digit plate, receive a refund and be issued a more traditional plate.

With state officials staring at a $3.67 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1, a shortfall equal to nearly one-fifth of current spending, it is time to focus on more important issues, Cafero said.

Before playfully disclosing the dinner ware he received from the last governor, Cafero said he doesn’t understand the status associated with a low-digit plate, but doesn’t object to those who do. “Not my cup of tea, but neither are piercings or tattoos,” he said. “To each his own.”

Cafero added in a half-serious tone that state government might want to consider auctioning off low-digit plates to help close the budget deficit.

cafero with plate

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero with his plate from the governor

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