With both the courthouse and the Bristol Technical Education Center slated for closure under Gov. Jodi Rell’s proposed budget, the governor is “really taking a sledgehammer to Bristol,” according to state House Speaker Chris Donovan.
The Meriden Democrat said that Rell’s call to shutter the last two significant state institutions in Bristol – while also slashing the family resource centers from Bristol – shows her lack of concern for the Mum City.
“They’re closing the whole town down,” Donovan said.
One of Gov. Jodi Rell's four spokesmen, Chris Cooper, said that the proposed spending cuts are spread across the state.
"There's no singling out of anybody," Cooper said. "The governor is trying to spread the pain as evenly as possible.”
State Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat who represents the 31st District, said that he’s not sure “if it’s just Bristol, but I know we’re getting hammered.”
“Bristol’s being targeted way too much,” the senator said. “How much more can Bristol lose? Why don’t they just make a ghost town out of us?”
Mayor Art Ward said he understands the need to share the pain “but it just seems that Bristol is being earmarked for more of the share than communities of equitable size.”
“I’m definitely not happy with the proposals that have been presented to us so far,” Ward said.
Ward said he’s not sure why Rell appears to be targeting Bristol “but I’m hoping our local delegation can step forward and present sufficient arguments to the governor whereby she can comprehend the effect on the community if these cuts are exercised.”
State Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose 78th District includes northwestern Bristol, said that he agrees on the need to preserve the technical school.
“It’s a good program,” Hamzy said. “It achieves the objective that we set out for it. That’s not just because it’s in Bristol.”
“That’s up to us to make that point” to the governor, Hamzy said.
Colapietro, an ardent technical school backer, said that losing the courthouse would hurt downtown, drying up business for restaurants and other enterprises that are trying to hang on in the city center.
Hamzy said that people need to keep the larger financial problem in context, blasting the Democratic leaders of the legislature for choosing to rile up residents with a series of press conferences rather than presenting a spending plan that would address the $8 billion shortfall facing the state.
“Beating up on Gov. Rell’s proposals is easy,” Hamzy said, but offering an alternative is tough.
Hamzy said the recently completed session marks the first time that the General Assembly hasn’t endorsed a budget, a move he said that leaves him “totally amazed.”
Colapietro said that people don’t realize how hard it is for the legislature to make cuts because everyone has different ideas about what’s worth saving.
“People yell cut, cut, cut,” he said, but they don’t realize the consequences.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Colapietro said. “You might get it.”
Targeted for closure
Targeted for closure
Bristol Technical Education Center
State social services office
State labor office
Division of Motor Vehicles office
Contact Steve Collins at email@example.com